New Delhi: State-run NTPC Limited has recorded a whopping 130 percent increase in coal imports in the nine-month April-December period of FY22. The figure is significant as India faced an acute shortage of coal between August and October 2021 and the state-run PSU had to import coal to ensure sufficient availability of coal stock at its thermal power plants. In the April-December period of FY22, NTPC imported 1.40 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) of coal, up from 0.61 MMT import registered during the corresponding period of the previous financial year. The government has asked NTPC and Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) to import 10 percent of their coal requirement this fiscal for blending in order to ensure sufficient coal stock in case of a disruption.
In a written response submitted in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session in December 2021, Power Minister RK Singh had told the House that NTPC had not placed any fresh order for procurement of imported coal during FY21 and had also reduced package quantities of its various contracts for procuring imported coal. However, for FY22, NTPC enhanced package quantity of running contracts by 1.42 MMT for blending of domestic coal with imported coal.
India faced an acute crisis in the power sector between August and October due to low coal stock at thermal power plants amid a sudden surge in electricity demand. An extended monsoon which affected the transportation of coal from mines, coupled with a suspension of coal imports by thermal power plants in the backdrop of high international coal prices, caused coal stocks to decline to record low levels at power plants. In order to tide over the crisis and build coal stock at thermal power plants, Coal India Ltd (CIL) had stepped up coal supplies to the power sector. In August 2021, NTPC had imported close to 2.7 lakh tonne of coal, which it said was "leftover quantity from earlier contracts."