Coal India Ltd (CIL) accounts for 81 per cent of the country’s coal production with bulk of its output being earmarked for the power sector.

Signalling the urgency with which the new government is tackling infrastructure issues, the panel set up on coal and power met last week, within two days of the government’s office order on the issue.

Coal issues related to the power sector were taken up first, and a day-long meeting was held on this last week. The committee took stock of the present situation in the coal industry.

Demand-supply gap

Coal India Ltd (CIL) accounts for 81 per cent of the country’s coal production with bulk of its output being earmarked for the power sector. However, persistent demand-supply gap has lead to increased imports, which touched 180 million tonnes in 2013-14. Plagued by an array of issues, including transportation problems, CIL subsidiaries missed their offtake target by over 11 million tonnes in the first quarter of the current fiscal, when production stood at 108.33 million tonnes against the targeted 113 million tonnes. The fact that CIL as well as three of its major subsidiaries are now without a full-time Chairman, hardly helps matters.

Presentations were made on all the problem areas at the meeting, sources said.

The meeting on coal was followed by a half-day meeting on the power sector, where issues pertaining to transmission and distribution were discussed

It may be mentioned that on June 25, the government announced the setting up of a seven-member advisory group for integrated development of power, coal and renewable energy, chaired by former Power Minister Suresh Prabhu.

The advisory panel is expected to generate inputs for a comprehensive policy framework for integrated development of the three sectors. The framework would rest on an optimal energy mix, an action plan for power to all 24x7, adequate T&D infrastructure and development of alternative sources such as oceanic, biomass, coal bed methane and coal gasification.

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