Problems in importing coal in the wake of its rising international prices, among other factors such as monsoon, caused coal shortage across the nation, Coal India Ltd said in a statement on Monday.

The statement comes at a time when power plants have reportedly been struggling with coal availability and low stocks.

The major pain point for CIL has been that 14 imported coal-based power plants scaled down their generation due to skyrocketing global coal prices. Consequently, domestic coal-based thermal power plants had to step in to plug the gap, which, in turn, placed an unfactored load of around 10 million tonnes (mt) on CIL. “Had this not happened the stocks at power plants would have been around 17 mt to 18 mt instead of the bleak 7 mt now,” CIL said.

In September, the generation from these plants at 2.04 MW fell short by 75 per cent against the target of 8.11 MW. Power generation from these plants had stood at 7.24 MW in the year before.

Between April and September this financial year, the contraction in generation was 30 per cent over the same period a-year-ago.

“CIL is marshalling all its efforts to bridge the demand supply gap to the extent possible. With 40 mt stock at our pitheads and increasing production, availability of coal would not be a problem,” said a senior official of the company.

For the past few days, daily output levels were increased to 1.51 mt from 1.4 mt. Company officials expect to ramp it further up to 1.6 mt. Total dispatches have increased by 10 per cent to 1.73 mt. The company has pithead coal stocks of around 40 mt. Once October and major festivals are over, conditions will improve and the power demand is expected to be down by a notch, easing the pressure, CIL said in the statement.

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