Exclusive Interview With Coal Secretary Anil Swarup

Exclusive Interview With Coal Secretary Anil Swarup

Emerging From Coal Shortages to Surpluses, India May Soon Look At Exporting Coal to Bangladesh

Coal Secretary, Anil Swarup spoke to Anupama Airy, Editor of EnergyInfraPost.com and took questions on the coal situation in the country that has changed from that of excessive coal shortages to that of coal surpluses. Thanks to increased production of coal by state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL), India may soon look at exports of this commodity to Bangladesh.


Today we have emerged from the situation of coal shortages. Why is it than that companies are still importing coal?

Imports have comparatively come down but yes why imports are still happening because of the long term arrangement which the companies already have entered into. Then most of the imports are happening in ports where the boilers have been designed for imported coal on the assumption that coal will not be available domestically. So these boilers will have to be re-designed due the ash content in the Indian coal. Indian coal cannot be put in these boilers.

On Coal Surpluses in India

Higher production by Coal India has built surplus of this commodity. Today, we have 50 million tonnes on pitheads. This is lesser compared to around 56-58 million tonnes by the end of March 2016. Another 30-32 million lies at the power houses. This makes it a total of around 82 million tonnes.

Ways to Deal With These Surpluses?

We are looking at exports of coal from India. Then the Uday scheme for financial and operational turnaround of Discoms will prove to be a game-changer as it will improve the purchasing capacity of these companies as a result of which consumption will improve and demand for coal will go up.

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Why Can’t Coal be made available to Companies other than the e-auction route?

We have to supply coal in a transparent manner and e-suction is the process laid out for companies to buy coal in line with their requirement. So even if we have surplus coal, I can’t give it other than the e-auction route because if today due to surpluses, I give coal to one company and the coal situation changes after six months, there will be companies who will question why one company was favoured and not them. Then how do we determine who should get it? So we have the auction as a transparent mechanism that decides who will get it.

Which countries are you in talks with for coal exports? We hear that Bangladesh is one amongst them.

I don’t want to announce anything but yes our team had gone to Bangladesh and we are looking at exporting around 2-3 million tonnes of coal. The final figures will be known only once an agreement is reached.

Anupama Airy
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Anupama Airy

Founder and Editor at EnergyInfraPost
Independent Journalist and Energy Expert.​ (Worked with leading mainline financial and national daily for 23 years.​)​ Also, Guest Contributor with busines​sinsider.in
Currently, Writing a Book for Penguin India Titled Greased Pole:How Politics and Lobbying Stifled India’s Energy Dreams. The author can be reached on anupama.airy@gmail.com (9810661825)​
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Anupama Airy
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