Indian coalfields are not producing enough coal, thereby adversely affecting the functioning of thermal plants and the industries that run on them.

 According to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) data, as on 29 November, as many as 15 out of 112 thermal power plants were having either critical (of less than seven days) or super critical (of less than four days) stock of coal. The combined capacity of these thermal plants is about 1.26 lakh MW.

Five plants are learnt to have critical stock, four of which are located in the northern region of the country, and one in the southern region. The 10 power plants that have super critical stock are located in the western region. 

Ideally, these power plants need to have a stock that can last for at least three weeks. However, at present, thermal power plants have an average stock of just one week. The total available coal at these plants is 9,842,000 tonne (9.82 million tonne).

On 1 October, as many as 24 power plants were having either critical or super critical stock of coal. The situation improved marginally on 1 November, when 22 plants were learnt to have a critical stock. However, on 29 November, this number came down to 15. 

The Coal India Limited (CIL) has taken several initiatives to ensure an increased supply of coal to the power sector. The coal stock at mines of CIL has been offered to power plants situated within a radius of 50-60 km, with the freedom to lift as much coal as they can by their own arrangement. In a recent meeting, it was decided that the CIL would dispatch 215 rakes every day to the country’s power plants.

Coal import had declined significantly from April to August this year due to increased coal production. However, it increased marginally in September (5.17 MT) and October (5.25 MT) due to coal shortage. Total imported coal received by the power plants in the first seven months of this fiscal was 33 MT against a target of 46 MT for the year.

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