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Focus on Indigenous Coal production to reduce imports

  • Published
    6th Aug, 2022
Context

The ‘Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy’ recommended that the union ministries of power and coal should ensure optimum utilization of locally-produced coal through effective collaboration so that imports can be phased out over time.

Background
  • Due to emergence of severe coal crisis during April and May in the year 2022, India got onto midst of an unprecedented coal demand and supply shocks.
  • As the effect of Russia-Ukraine War, this forced the government to float tenders for coal imports.
  • In view of India’s energy security targets, the emphasis on higher production of coal has grown.
  • There is 26.22% growth reported in domestic coal production in April-July to 265.65 million tonnes.
  • Though it is not fully implemented in a collaborative manner on government lines.

India’s Coal import policy

As per the present import policy, coal can be freely imported (under Open General Licence) by the consumers themselves considering their needs based on their commercial prudence.

  • Coking Coal is being imported by Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL).
  • Coal based power plants, cement plants, captive power plants, sponge iron plants, industrial consumers and coal traders are importing non-coking coal.
  • Coke is imported mainly by pig-Iron manufacturers and Iron & Steel sector consumers using mini-blast furnace.
  • Details of import of coal and products i.e. coke during the last six years is as under:

Coal Reserves in India

  • As a result of exploration carried out up to the maximum depth of 1200 m, a cumulative total of 319.02 Billion tonnes of Geological Resources of Coal have so far been estimated in the country till April, 2018.
  • Hard coal deposit spread over 27 major coalfields, are mainly confined to eastern and south central parts of the country.
  • The lignite reserves stand at a level around 36 billion tonnes, of which 90% occur in the southern State of Tamil Nadu.

 Top 5 States in terms of total coal reserves in India are:

  • Jharkhand > Odisha > Chhattisgarh > West Bengal > Madhya Pradesh

What does the committee recommended?

  • In its 26th report, the panel chaired by Rajiv Ranjan Singh, said that the increased demand for domestic coal, and consequently reduced domestic coal stocks at power plants should be focused by the concerned ministries.
  • The Central Electricity Authority and the power ministry had advised power generating companies to import to replenish critical coal stocks at power plants. 
  • Quality of indigenous coal should be enhanced and design of boilers at power plants can be modified to enable them to run on domestic coal.
  • To incentivize and promote the domestic copper industry and reduce dependency on imported refined copper and copper scrap, as consumption is expected to rise from the current level of 0.6 kg to 1 kg per capita per year.
  • It has recommended the mines ministry to collaborate with the finance and commerce ministries to offer more incentives to the copper industry for capacity addition under the ‘Make in India’


Classification of coal

On the basis of carbon content it can be classified into following three types:

  • Anthracite: It is the best quality of coal with highest calorific value and carries 80 to 95% carbon content. It ignites slowly with a blue flame and found in small quantities in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Bituminous: It has a low level of moisture content with 60 to 80% of carbon content and has a high calorific value. Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have deposits of Bituminous.
  • Lignite carries 40 to 55% carbon content and is often brown in colour with high moisture content thus, gives smoke when burnt. Rajasthan, Lakhimpur (Assam) and Tamil Nadu has deposits of Lignite.

Peat is the first stage of transformation from wood to coal with low calorific value and less than 40% carbon content.

Some Other suggestions

  • Opencast Coal Mining
  • Focus on Environmental concerns of coal mining
  • Timely Ministerial collaboration
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