New Delhi: At the end of Covid-clouded FY21 and amid output and off-take challenges, Coal India's (CIL) silver lining came in the form of a decline in coal imports to the tune of 90 Million Tonnes (MT). Also, beating the previous estimates, the PSU coal major booked an all-time high quantity of 124 MT in its e-auctions. Sustaining its growth trajectory throughout the fiscal, Over Burden Removal logged a 17-percent growth, easing the way for faster future production.
Through a series of initiatives, CIL pumped additional quantities of coal into the system that prompted customers to opt for 90 MTs of domestic coal in lieu of coal imported from abroad. "In the absence of our import substitution measures through a host of concessions and benefits, the customers would have had no alternative than to source coal from imports. In that, it was a productive and timely move," said a senior executive of the company.
The company opened a new window exclusively for coal importers in October 2020. CIL allowed its subsidiaries to sign MoUs with 17 power plants linked to them to substitute their coal imports with its own coal, for blending. Additional coal was allocated to Central and State Gencos, under flexi-utilisation scheme, enabling them to avoid coal imports. ACQ for power plants was enhanced to 100 percent of normative requirement from 90 percent. Increased quantities of coal were offered to non-regulated sectors against FSAs up to 100 percent of ACQ. Trigger level for power sector was elevated from 75 percent to 80 percent. Increased bookings in auctions were a major booster in import substitution efforts. While these actions cumulatively helped the power sector opt for domestic coal to the tune of 42 MTs, NRS picked up bulk of the rest.
CIL set a new high in booking 124 MT of coal under five e-auction windows in FY21, eclipsing the previous record of 113.6 MT achieved in 2016-17. Compared to 66 MT booked in 2019-20, CIL logged a strong 88 percent growth in auction bookings. In absolute terms, the increase is 58 MT.
CIL produced 596.2 MT of coal ending FY'21 against 602.1 MTs of last fiscal, while the off-take was 573.8 MT compared to 581.4 MT. "Despite our best efforts, there was marginal contraction in output and off-take by 1 percent and 1.3 percent respectively on a year-on-year comparison due to Covid-led lack of demand," said the official.
Primarily what hurt CIL's supplies was reduced coal lifting by the power sector and a steep 31 percent fall in road transport despite best efforts for conversion from road to rail during the pandemic lockdown. Coordinated efforts with Railways witnessed loading from CIL's own sources go up by 11 percent on a year-on-year comparison. "The shrinkage in supplies could have been more had not for the spate of actions and sops offered to our customers," said an official of the company's marketing division.
The lack of demand also led to a stockpile of 99 MTs at CIL pitheads. Further production would have resulted in stocks building up even higher. On the positive side, with the expected demand revival during summer months of Q1, the company has sufficient buffer to meet any surge and the stocks would be reduced substantially.
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