NEW DELHI: Government today said it is aiming to bring down to "zero" thermal coal imports of power PSUs like NTPC in the current fiscal, a move that would reduce the country's import bill by around Rs 17,000 crore.
The government would also slowly convince the private companies operating in the power space to totally stop the import of thermal fossil fuel.
"This year we want that coal import by these plants (of public sector companies) should be brought down to zero and slowly we would convince the private sector that there is no need for you to import coal," Coal Secretary Susheel Kumar told PTI.
The government, he said, will also convince upon the private companies in the power sector to source coal through domestic sources as it is more reliable and prone to less price variations.
"The move is likely to substantially bring down the country's import bill. India will save around Rs 17,000 crore on import bill," the Secretary said.
The Coal Ministry, he said, will make available to the power public sector units (PSUs) the supply of thermal coal through domestic sources in sufficient amount which would prompt the companies to not resort to import of fossil fuel.
"We will supply so much of coal to them that there would be no need for them to import coal," the Secretary said.
"We would bring down to zero the requirement of coal through imports of central public sector companies like NTPC and state PSUs. This is the target we have," Kumar said.
The major policy thrust of the government, he said, is that import substitution should take place.
On account of increased production of coal imports declined from 217.78 MT in FY'15 to 199.88 MT in 2015-16.
The trend of fall in import of coal also continued in the 2016-17 fiscal. During the first 10 months (April-January), coal imports reduced by 2.59 per cent as against the year-ago period, the government had earlier said.
However, import of coal is not solely dependent on the domestic production. It also depends on other factors like power plant designed on imported coal and insufficient availability of coking coal of required grade, the government had said.