Better coordination between the Ministries of Coal and Railways in the last few weeks has led to increased coal production, which, in turn, has resulted in better availability of coal at thermal power plants across the country. Coal production increased to about 15% in the first two months—April and May—of the current fiscal, 2018-19. This, in turn, also benefited the Railways as it has seen its freight going up by 8%.
As per figures of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), as on 13 June, only 14 power plants, out of the total 115, had either critical or super critical stock of coal. The situation was completely different on 31 March, when as many as 28 power plants had a critical or super critical coal stock.
As a result of improved coal supply, coal imports by power utilities too fell by 22.23% to 3.731 million tonnes in April, according to CEA. It was 4.798 MT in April last year.
An official of the Ministry of Coal said they were working closely with their counterparts in the Ministry of Railways so that nobody would lose the ability to generate power for the lack of availability of coal. The fact that both ministries are headed by one person, Piyush Goyal, has been an advantage as far as coordination is concerned.
“There is better transportation through synergy between the Coal and Railway Ministries. Coal loading of Coal India Limited (CIL) has increased from 195 rakes per day in 2014-15 to 230 rakes per day in 2017-18. Timelines for time-bound execution have been set for 14 critical projects for extracting coal,” he said.
According to Coal Minister Piyush Goyal, there was a shortage of coal as there was higher demand. He told The Sunday Guardian, “But there has been an increase in the production to meet the higher demand. The overall scenario has also changed—coal production, which was 462 million tonne in 2013-14—has now gone up to 567 million tonne in 2017-18. The first two months of 2018-19 has reported 15% growth.”
Besides, the increased production of CIL and improved transportation by Railways, the other factor which has contributed to better coal stock is the auctioning and allotment of 89 coal mines and to coal producing states.