NEW DELHI: India in February imported about 186.06 million tonne (MT) coal in the current financial year, with Indonesia being the biggest supplier. As per government data, India imported 90.31 MT coal from Indonesia, followed by 35.27 MT from Australia, 15.64 MT from Russia and 13.01 MT from South Africa so far in 2022-23. The country has doubled its coal import from Russia and has halved its import from Australia in the current year.
Coal is the mainstay of energy and it contributes about 70% of the total power generation in the country. India is the second largest coal producer but also the second largest importer in the world. In 2022-2023 (up to February 2023), the country produced about 785.24 MT of coal as compared to about 681.98 MT during the same period of last year, registering a growth of about 15.14%.
At the same time, it spent $36 billion (till November 2022) on importing 168 MT of coal. Last year, due to a coal shortage, the country had to face a power crisis and later Coal India Limited, India’s largest coal producer, had to import coal from Indonesia on behalf of the government. However, the coal ministry always maintained that there was no shortage of coal in the country, only supply is an issue.
This time, the coal ministry is confident that the country won’t have to import coal to fulfil domestic usage. Last week, the power minister RK Singh reviewed the power situation in the country with stakeholders, directed power plants to undertake maintenance of its plants well in advance, and got a commitment from railways to provide 418 rakes to transport coal.
The government is of the view that mainly, low ash coking coal and high-grade coal are imported as their domestic production is either scarce or non-available. Also Imported coal-based (ICB) power plants in the coastal areas are specially designed to use imported coal only.