New Delhi– The Central government has worked to ensure superior coal quality for consumers along with a focus on lowering the cost of electricity, Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday.
Citing the Modi government’s achievements in this respect, he said the historic reforms undertaken in the coal sector, including allowing commercial mining, have led to increased energy capacity and fuel efficiency in the country.
While coal production had gone up by unprecedented levels during this period, the efforts towards quality improvement had reduced the amount of coal required per unit of electricity in the country, he said.
“The Ministry has worked for ensuring superior coal quality by setting up third-party sampling procedures. The Uttam app has been launched for ensuring transparency and efficiency in the coal monitoring process.
“Regradation has been done of all mines of Coal India and Singareni Collieries by the Coal Controller.
“Focus has been on the cost of electricity through lower cost and higher quality … and the Specific Coal Consumption, or the amount of coal required per unit of electricity, has been cut by 8 per cent in the last four years,” Goyal told the media.
He also noted that the 105 million tonnes of increased production achieved by state miner Coal India in the last four years took almost seven years to achieve in the period prior to 2013-14.
Coal India produced about 462 million tonnes in 2013-14 and ended 2017-18 with a production of over 567 million tonne.
In view of the “feeling of coal shortages” in power plants, Goyal said: “Obviously, coal output involves land acquisition, installation of necessary equipment and a whole cycle. As the demand is growing very rapidly in the last 8-9 months, the so-called feeling of (coal) shortages has crept in. The Coal and Railway ministries are working together to ensure that at no point of time, anybody loses the ability to generate power for lack of availability of coal.”
Coal India had recently said that coal dispatch to the power sector grew by 15 per cent in the April-May period of the current fiscal.
Goyal, who is also Railways Minister, said that the efforts of the Coal Ministry, Coal India and the Railways had helped reduce imports of the fuel in the last four years, while previously its imports were increasing gradually, he said.
He also noted that the miner had been meeting the demand of power plants amid reduction in coal imports, fall in hydro power generation and increase in power demand.
On the outlook for coal demand, he said: “I think there will be robust demand for coal, going forward. We are trying to encourage power plants, which are based on imported coal, to re-design their capacities so that they can use more domestic coal.”
With the closure of some of the import-based plants following a Supreme Court verdict, there had been an increased load on domestic coal, he said.
Goyal described commercial coal mining as the “most ambitious reform” in the sector.
“As far as the commercial coal mining is concerned, the process is underway. I had some discussions with the unions. We are also looking at more mines being auctioned out for power, non-power sectors,” Goyal said, adding 89 coal mines have been auctioned and all revenues allotted to coal-mining states.
“Most of the mines were allotted to state governments or state utilities. NTPC, NLC India and some other companies are doing quick work on that, even though some of the state governments have been lagging. We are pursuing them to proceed faster,” he said.
Goyal, who is also interim Union Finance Minister, on Monday met Union Power Minister R.K. Singh and officials regarding resolution of stressed power assets, in view of the Allahabad High Court staying the Reserve Bank of India’s February 12 circular pertaining to the resolution of NPAs related to power sector.
“We had preliminary discussion on the Allahabad High Court order. A formal meeting will soon be convened by the banking Secretary along with the Association of Power Producers, Reserve Bank of India and all other officials to consider the direction of Allahabad high Court and prepare a way forward,” Goyal added. (IANS)