Government faces tough task of enhancing coal production and ensuring timely supply to plants
As Government is battling to ensure faster coal supply to power plants in order to meet the surging demand which has accentuated due to prevailing heat wave conditions across the country, the Coal Ministry has set itself an ambitious production target of 700 million tonnes in the current financial year 2022-23, which will also ensure adequate supply in future to the power sector.
To augment output, Government has also been putting up on auction coal blocks for commercial mining.
Coal Ministry had launched commercial auction of coal in June 2020, however after almost two years, out of the 292 mines offered for auction in four rounds, only 42 mines have been successfully auctioned in three rounds.
According to official sources, bids for fourth round of auction were opened on March 2, 2022, where two or more bids were received for 5 reserves while 6 coal mines fetched only single bids.
With the commercial coal mining auction process having received a tepid response, the Government's aim of enhancing coal production through this route seems to have hit a roadblock.
Coal India too had seen an output of 478 million tonnes between April-January period of 2021-22, even though it plans to take it to 700 million tonnes in the current fiscal.
Sources said that though the Government has set a stiff production target for Coal India for the current fiscal, the commercial coal auction has not fetched the desired results and in addition to all this is the rising demand for coal by power utilities.
Compounding the situation are the logistical issues being faced to transport coal to power plants.
All these factors pose a tough challenge before the Government, which today forced Power Minister R K Singh and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to brainstorm over resolving the logistical issue of supplying coal faster to power plants.