Government Asks States To Curb Thermal Coal Imports
Asking states to stop thermal coal imports, the government in Rajya Sabha on Monday said that a lobby was active in some states that were behind dry fuel imports despite sufficient domestic stock.
Replying to a query in the Upper House during Question Hour, Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi said India houses the fourth-largest reserves in the world, yet thermal coals were being imported and should be stopped. "There is no hesitation in saying that in many states some import lobby is also working. Though in last three-four months we have enough stock some of the Gencos are importing. This is the major problem," Joshi said.
Making it clear that he was not politicising the issue, the minister said many states are importing thermal coal which is substitutable. "I have written to all chief ministers including those of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana, Jharkhand, and Tamil Nadu requesting them to direct all Gencos to maximise the coal lifting and stop coal imports," he said.
The minister said he has also asked Power Minister R K Singh to ask NTPC Ltd. to totally stop the imports. All thermal power plants have a stock of 23 days which is the highest ever in recent history, he added. The minister cautioned states to utilise domestic coal on a priority basis as the present stock has a maximum life of 30 years.
The minister said though coal production this year remained impacted due to "incessant and unprecedented" rains, the production increased after December. On commercial mining, he said a new system for E-auction of mines has been put in place besides stringent action against non-performers.
Also, captive mine owners have been allowed to sell 25 percent of the coal over and above end-use. Thermal coal is used in power generation. About coking coal which is mostly used in steel production, the minister said the country has not sufficient stock but Jharia coal mines which have the highest such stock was being redeveloped.
"Jharia Redevelopment Authority is there. We are supporting that ...Rehabiliation will done at the earliest," he said in reply to a supplementary. India imported 235.24 million tonnes of coal in 2018-19 whereas imports for the current fiscal up to December stood at 186.64, the minister said. The value of imported coal during the last fiscal was estimated at $2,4513 million.