New Delhi: The coal ministry on Thursday said that coal imports, which had reached a peak of 248 million tonnes (MT) in 2019-20, declined continuously during the next two years to 215 MT in 2020-21 and further to 209 MT in 2021-22. “The decline in coal imports during 2021-22 is largely due to a decrease in imports by the Power Sector which came down from 45 MT in 2020-21 to 27 MT in 2021-22, a decline of almost 40 per cent.
The decline is steeper if we compare coal imports by the power sector in 2021-22 to the pre-Covid year of 2019-20 when such imports were 69 MT. This is despite the fact that total thermal power generation in the country increased to 1115 BU in 2021-22 from 1032 BU in 2020-21, an increase of 83 BU in absolute terms and Almost 8 per cent in percentage terms,” said the ministry.
The ministry said that despite a steep rise in actual demand for coal from 956 MT in 2019-20 to 1027 MT in 2021-22, coal imports have not increased. Coal imports grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.86 per cent during the period 2009-10 to 2013-14.
At this CAGR, coal imports would have reached 705 MT in 2020-21 and further to 866 MT in 2021-22. The import of coal could be checked only by sustaining increased domestic supply over the years. All India coal production has increased from 716 MT in 2020-21 to 777 MT in 2021-22 resulting in an increase of 61 MT. Therefore, despite a steep rise in actual demand for coal from 906 MT in 2020-21 to 1027 MT in 2021-22, coal imports could be contained due to increased domestic dispatch from 691 MT in 2020-21 to 818 MT in 2021-22. Domestic dispatch has not only increased to the power sector but also to the non-power sector by 101 MT in 2020-21 to 104 MT in 2021-22.
Coking coal import was 57 MT with a growth of 11.65 per cent during 2021-22 which is largely used in the Steel Sector. However, as compared to the pre-Covid year of 2019-20, the growth in coking coal imports is around 10 per cent. Coal imported by the non-regulated Sector (Cement, Sponge Iron & Paper etc) increased to 125 MT in 2021-22 from 119 MT in 2020-21, an increase of 5.23 per cent. Compared to the pre-Covid year of 2019-22, when imports by the non-regulated sector were 127 MT, imports by this sector have actually declined in 2021-22.
Thus, the increase in import of coal by the non-power sector during 2021-22 is largely on account of growth in import of coking coal and import of coal by non-regulated sectors which largely import high-grade thermal coal. The supply of both these categories of coal is limited in the country.
India has a balanced energy basket and the coal sector is an important contributor to fulfilling the nation’s energy needs. The sector is not only committed to meeting coal demand in the country but is also sensitive to building a sustainable ecosystem. Coal is a critical input for the power, fertilizer, iron & steel and cement sectors.