Rapid rise in demand led to feeling of coal shortages: Goyal

Union minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said rapid rise in coal demand has led to a “feeling” that there are shortages, amid concerns about inadequate supply of the dry fuel.

Goyal, who holds the portfolios of coal and railways, also asserted that both ministries are working together to ensure that no power plant is shut on account of fuel shortages.

Last month, the Delhi government had urged the Centre to direct the railways to provide rakes for transporting coal to power plants in Delhi-NCR, which is facing “alarming level” of coal shortage.

“As the demand (for coal) is growing very rapidly in the last 8-9 months the so-called feeling of shortages has crept in. But the coal ministry and the railways ministry are working together to ensure that at no point of time anybody losing the ability to generate power for lack of availability of coal,” Goyal said.

Because of increase in demand of fossil fuel, the minister said, state-owned CIL has ramped up coal production very massively.

“As on March 31, 2017, there may be 68 or 69 million tonnes of stock. At the level, we were worried that if there were a fire over there it would cause a massive loss. Post that there has be­en surge in demand, wh­ich are now meeting both through enhanced production and enhanced dispatch,” the minister said.

Stating that there has been a production growth of 15 per cent in the first two months of the ongoing financial year, the minister said the railways has also correspondingly ramped up its ability to transport dry fuel. The coal production, which was 462 million tonnes in 2013-14 has increased to 567 million tonnes in 2017-18.

“What used to happen in 7-8 years has happened in four years. That is the speed with which we have been able to expand the output in coal. And all of this helped us to reduce the dependence on foreign currency utilised for import of coal. It has helped us to reduce the cost of power significantly,” the minister explained. “It is a matter of happiness that there is more demand for coal and I will ensure that it can be met from domestic sour­ces,” Goyal added.

The minister also exuded confidence that going forward with the cooperation of the power, coal and railway ministries, the government will ensure adequate coal supply to the power plants across the country.