Pledge to cut coal imports turning a dud

Pledge to cut coal imports turning a dud

India’s dependence on overseas reserves of coal to fire its power plants seems to be at the point of no return. The fact that India almost tripled its imports of the dry fuel from America in the first quarter of 2018 from a year earlier and that several state-owned power utilities have begun buying foreign coal due to domestic coal shortages undermines a pledge by the government to cut thermal coal imports to zero by March 2019.

The imports of coal have risen by over 14 per cent at 217 million tonnes (MT) in 2017-18 after dropping by 5.6 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively in 2015-16 and 2016-17. In the first quarter of 2018, imports rose over 15 per cent. Meanwhile, Coal India (CIL) is struggling to step up production, in a setback for the country’s long-term plans to eliminate imports. The public sector coal producer produced 567 MT of coal in 2017-18 against a target of 600 MT.

Notably, the coal ministry had initially targeted 660 MT of coal production in 2017-18. On the other hand, inability of domestic supply presents opportunities for miners in the US and Australia, who are struggling to find buyers at home. Read  More

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