NEW DELHI: India's coal import in March stood at 15.74 million tonnes (MT), down 27.5 per cent over last year, due to restrictions imposed at various ports in the wake of coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The country had imported 21.72 MT of coal in March last year, according to a provisional compilation by mjunction services based on monitoring of vessels' positions and data received from shipping companies.
However, the country's coal import registered an increase of 3.2 per cent to 242.97 MT in 2019-20.
"On a progressive basis, total coal and coke imports during 2019-20 (April 2019-March 2020) stood at 242.97 MT (provisional), about 3.24 per cent higher than 235.35 MT imported during the previous fiscal (April 2018-March 2019)," it said.
According to mjunction MD and CEO Vinaya Varma, "the lockdown imposed across the countries due to novel coronavirus pandemic has had a cascading effect on this sector. There was a significant drop in India's coal import volumes due to both demand and supply side factors, i.e.offtake, consumption, logistics and despatches".
Varma further said "the sentiment remains subdued and we expect volumes to keep low in the near-term". Of the total imports in March 2020, non-coking coal was at 11.73 MT, against 16.94 MT imported in February 2020.
Coal minister Pralhad Joshi had earlier said the Centre will stop the "substitutable import" of coal in the next three to four years.
India imported 235 million tonnes of coal in 2018-19 valued at Rs 1.7 lakh crore, Joshi had earlier said. Covid-19 has wreaked havoc across the world, including india. There are more than 14.30 lakh declared cases of coronavirus worldwide. In India, the tally of confirmed coronavirus cases has crossed the 5000-mark.