New Delhi: India’s import of coal could be checked due to a sustained increase in 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, official sources said.
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.
The domestic dispatch has not only increased to the power sector but also to the non-power sector by 101 MT in 2020-21 to 104 MT in 2021-22, the Coal Ministry said.
The decline in coal imports during 2021-22 is largely due to a decrease in imports by the Power Sector, which came down from 45 MT in 2020-21 to 27 MT in 2021-22, a decline of almost 40 per cent.
“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 imports were 69 MT. This is despite the fact that total thermal power generation in the country increased,” the ministry said.
Sources also said that the coal import grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.86 per cent during the period 2009-10 to 2013-14 during the UPA regime.
At this CAGR, coal imports would have reached 705 MT in 2020-21 and further to 866 MT in 2021-22.
But enhanced production could check the imports.
Coal is a critical input for the power, fertilizer, iron and steel and cement sectors.
Coking coal import was 57 MT with a growth of 11.65 per cent during 2021-22, which is largely used in the Steel Sector. However, as compared to the pre-Covid year of 2019-20, the growth in coking coal imports is around 10 per cent.
In fact, compared to the pre-Covid year of 2019-22, when imports by the non-regulated sector were 127 MT, imports by this sector actually declined in 2021-22.
India has a balanced energy basket, and the coal sector is an important contributor to fulfilling the nation’s energy needs.