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52 new coal mines set up since 2014 to fuel India’s ‘power for all’ drive

PW Bureau

New mines have added 164 MT (million tonnes) to the country’s annual coal production capacity, a 113 percent rise over capacity added in 2009-2014

New Delhi: Since 2014, 52 new coal mines have been set up. The coal mining market in India has seen rapid growth with a hope of achieving universal household electricity access by early 2020 without tripping the system, officials said. There has been an 86 percent growth over the number of mines added in the 2009-2014 period. The new mines have added 164 MT (million tonnes) to the country’s annual coal production capacity, a 113 percent rise over capacity added in 2009-2014.

Under the previous UPA government, most mining projects were held up due to delays in obtaining environmental approvals and protests against land acquisition. However, structural reforms in the present government’s functioning have made it possible to open a number of coal mines.

There isn’t enough coal

Even as the demand-supply gap narrowed to 0.7 percent in 2018 with energy supply rising 120 percent over the 2004-2005 period, according to Central Electricity Authority’s (CEA) latest annual report, the rise in coal production has not been enough to meet India’s power demand. According to a previous report by PSU Watch, data sourced from CEA showed that at least 10 thermal power plants had no coal stock and nine others had coal stock that would last for one more day only in the beginning of January.

During April-November last year, India’s total coal production was 433.9 MT with a 9.8 percent growth rate, coal and railway minister Piyush Goyal told Parliament in a written reply last month. However, the increase in production has not been enough to fuel India’s quest for 24x7 electricity.

State-run Coal India Ltd, which alone accounts for 82 percent of domestic output, produced 358 MT during the April-November 2018 period at a growth rate of 8.8 percent over the previous corresponding period.