New Delhi: As the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the country, Coal India Ltd's (CIL) coal offtake climbed to 54.1 Million Tonnes (MTs) in April even as the COVID-19 spread afflicted over 5,400 company employees and their families across subsidiaries, impacting operations, said Coal India on Tuesday. Of this, the power sector lifted 42.4 MTs or 78.4 percent. The rest 11.7 MTs was supplied to the non-power sector. "Offtake could have been even higher, but the pandemic spread afflicted over 5,400 company's employees and their wards across subsidiaries including contractual workers slowing down the operations. Most of them are involved in the frontline output and offtake operations. Loading from private washeries, goods sheds and transport through road mode as well took a hit," said CIL.
"Despite the setback, coal supplies logged a 3.3 percent growth compared to April of FY20, while the growth was even higher at 6.1 percent against April FY19 when CIL chalked up its highest-ever coal off-take of 607 MTs," said a senior company official.
Drawing growth comparison with last year's April would be anomalous because of the near total lockdown then. Nevertheless a 15 MT offtake increase in a month is a good sign, signalling demand revival for coal. For the record, the year-on-year (y-o-y) growth for April was 38.4 percent. "The key issue is demand has to sustain. If it holds, it bodes well for us in bringing down coal inventory further and increasing supplies," said the official. Meeting any demand spurt from the power sector would not be a problem but transport logistics taking a toll due to the second surge is a matter of concern.
CIL reduced its coal inventory by 12.2 MTs in April to 87.2 MTs. The company began FY'22 with a record stockpile of 99.3 MTs largely due to Covid-prompted tepid demand for the dry fuel. CIL produced around 42 MTs of coal in April and recorded Over Burden Removal at 116 Million Cubic Metres, achieving 94 percent of the month's target.
CIL continues to combat Covid on multiple fronts. It has set up a total of 3,000 beds, most of which are oxygen supported, including ICU beds. Additional 900 beds are being planned, of which 60 are ICU. At least 1,820 oxygen cylinders and over 200 ventilators are on ready condition. Over 77,000 employees, their wards and contractual workers, of over 45 years, have been vaccinated till May 2 since the beginning of FY22 in an ongoing programme.