Pandemic impacts coal offtake from Coal India’s mines

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Offtake from Coal India Ltd (CIL) fell more than a fifth in April as the second wave of the pandemic left several contract workers battling the deadly infection.

The fuel offtake from India’s largest coal miner fell to 54.13 million tonnes (mt) last month as against a target of 68.89 mt.

This dip in offtake has led the coal ministry to closely monitor the situation to ensure availability of the fossil fuel at thermal plants across the country given coal is the mainstay of India’s power generation mix.

“It is true that some of the contractual workers involved in offtake were covid affected," a Coal India official said in an emailed response. “Supplies in April ’21 could have been higher but for the resurgence of second wave of Covid pandemic. But, despite that April ’21 supplies were 3.3% more compared with a covid-free April ’19. In fact, this year’s April offtake is 6.1% higher compared with April of FY18-19, the year when CIL recorded its highest-ever coal offtake," the official added.

Coal India has a total of 259,000 employees and 83,000 contract workers. The official said 5,470 employees, and their families, have been affected by the pandemic in addition to 122 contract workers.

“On the back of a 99.33 MTs coal stock, at the beginning of the fiscal, CIL is geared up to meet any demand spurt from power sector," he further said.

Meanwhile, the company’s coal stocks have also declined by 12.21 mt in one month to 87.12 mt by April-end as curbs in several states to contain the spread of covid impacted coal offtake. “Coal supplies to thermal power projects have not been impacted. We are regularly monitoring the situation," said one of the two officials cited above, requesting anonymity. Queries emailed to spokespersons for ministries of coal and power late on Friday were not answered till press time.

India’s peak electricity demand fell in the first wave of covid-19 last year. However, demand had since recovered in line with the revival of economic activity.

India’s power generation capacity has also been rising. Of the installed power generation capacity of 382.15 gigawatts (GW), coal-fuelled projects make up 53% or 202.67 GW.

Source: Live Mint

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