India has a balanced energy basket and coal sector is an important contributor in fulfilling nation’s energy needs. The sector is not only committed to meet coal demand in the country but also sensitive towards building a sustainable ecosystem. Coal is a critical input for power, fertilizer, iron & steel and cement sector.
Coal imports, which had reached a peak of 248 Million Ton (MT) in 2019-20, declined continuously during the next two years to 215 MT in 2020-21 and further to 209 MT in 2021-22.
Despite steep rise in actual demand of coal from 956 MT in 2019-20 to 1027 MT in 2021-22, coal imports have not increased. Coal import grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.86% during the period 2009-10 to 2013-14. At this CAGR, coal imports would have reached 705 MT in 2020-21 and further to 866 MT in 2021-22. The import of coal could be checked only by sustaining increased domestic supply over the years.
All India coal production has increased from 716 MT in 2020-21 to 777 MT in 2021-22 resulting in an increase of 61 MT. Therefore, despite a steep rise in actual demand for coal from 906 MT in 2020-21 to 1027 MT in 2021-22, coal imports could be contained due to increased domestic dispatch from 691 MT in 2020-21 to 818 MT in 2021-22.
Domestic dispatch has not only increased to the power sector but also to non-power sector by 101 MT in 2020-21 to 104 MT in 2021-22. The decline in coal import during 2021-22 is largely due to decrease in import by Power Sector which came down from 45 MT in 2020-21 to 27 MT in 2021-22, decline of almost 40%.
The decline is more steep if we compare coal imports by power sector in 2021-22 to pre-covid year of 2019-20 when such import was 69 MT. This is despite the fact that total thermal power generation in the country increased to 1115 BU in 2021-22 from 1032 BU in 2020-21, an increase of 83 BU in absolute terms and almost 8 % in percentage terms.
Coking Coal import was 57 MT with a growth of 11.65% during 2021-22 which is largely used in the Steel Sector. However, as compared to pre-covid year of 2019-20, the growth in coking coal import is around 10 %. Coal imported by Non-regulated Sector (Cement, Sponge Iron & Paper etc) increased to 125 MT in 2021-22 from 119 MT in 2020-21 an increase of 5.23 %.
Compared to the pre covid year of 2019-22, when imports by non-regulated sector was 127 MT, imports by this sector has actually declined in 2021-22. Thus, increase in import of coal by non-power sector during 2021-22 is largely on account of growth in import of coking coal and import of coal by non-regulated sector which largely import high grade thermal coal. Supply of both these categories of coal are limited in the country.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Coal, in view of cleaner environment in coal transportation has given momentum in rail evacuation and also initiating news efforts to gradually move away from road movement of coal in country. Planned construction of new broad gauge rail lines in Greenfield coal bearing areas, extending the rail links to newer loading points and doubling and tripling the rail lines in some cases will enhance rail capacity considerably.
PM launched Gati Shakti- Nation Master Plan for Infrastructure development in October 2021 with the objective to bring different Ministries together and for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity Projects. It will incorporate the infrastructure schemes of various Ministries and State Governments and will also leverage technology extensively including spatial planning tools.
In line with the goal of PM Gati Shakti, the Ministry of Coal has undertaken 13 Railway Projects to develop multimodal connectivity and identified missing infrastructure gaps for each projects. Four Railway projects are successfully mapped in the NMP portal under High Impact projects which will be developed in the States of Jharkhand and Odisha and will facilitate movement of coal with rapid logistics and wider connectivity for all the commercial miners.