As the power crisis worsened, the Coal Secretary summoned Coal India Ltd.

NEW DELHI: According to private correspondence between the two reviewed by The Wire, public sector miner Coal India Ltd (CIL) has come in the crosshairs of the Narendra Modi government over the ongoing power crisis.

Coal Secretary Anil Kumar Jain accuses CIL boss Pramod Agarwal for failing to meet production and off-take targets in a letter written two weeks ago.

“During FY 2021-22 (Till 21 Sept), against a coal production target of 260.4 MT, actual coal production is 237.35 MT. Similarly against coal off-take target of 351.04 MT, actual coal off-take is 293.10 MT, with a huge deficit of 58 MT… there is a huge shortage of coal in the power houses, but the vendible coal stock available with CIL, as on 21.09.2021 is 44.25 MT which is not getting liquidated as per demand,” the letter, a copy of which is shown below, notes.

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Coal India’s (CIL) output fell 0.8 percent annually to 602.1 million tonne (MT) in FY ’20, owing primarily to monsoon rains that hampered mining operations.

While the government had set a 700 MT output target for CIL in FY ’22, it was reduced to 660 MT — a lower objective that the ministry fears will not be met as well.

The coal ministry secretary further criticises the CIL chief in the letter for allegedly ignoring several warnings in meetings beginning in April 2021.

“The coal supply issues were discussed in the meeting held on 12.04.21, where the likely demand from power sector as well as overall demand was projected and discussed with CIL. In the next meeting… the matter was again reviewed by me and CIL was directed to achieve 2.161 MT/day coal dispatch… However, actual coal dispatch was 1.8 MT/day in May 2021 when it was reviewed in the meeting held on 11.06.2021,” the letter says.

“CIL had all along maintained a position that because of the huge vendible coal stock, it is backing down coal production and concentrating on OBR so that coal supplies can be enhanced at short notice. As we notice today, neither has offtake been high enough to liquidate the stocks and nor has coal production been satisfactory to make coal available at all sidings.”

There is no sufficient supervision

In a subsequent meeting on August 30, the government reportedly advised CIL to “check coal offtake against promises made by various subsidiaries” and “take corrective action to maintain dispatch,” according to the letter.

“However, no report of any corrective action taken by Director Marketing in this regard has been received in the ministry,” the letter notes.

“The poor performance of CIL has specially been viewed seriously by the ministry. It is imperative on part of CIL to meet the requirements of the power sector as projected during the meeting”.

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