By Ratnajyoti Dutta
NEW DELHI Feb 28 India may need to import
140 million tonnes of coal in 2012/13, about a quarter more than
this year ending March 31, a coal ministry source said on
Tuesday, underscoring the country's struggle to produce enough
of the cheap fuel for power stations.
Coking coal would be about 15 percent of the total coal
import that could cost about $11 billion. International coal
prices are up to 40 percent higher than domestic rates.
India is home to about 10 percent of the world's coal
reserves, but domestic output has been crimped by hurdles over
environmental clearances and land acquisition, as well as low
A shortage of fuel has constrained expansion in India's
power sector, which consumes about two-thirds of the country's
coal output, putting a drag on growth in Asia's third-largest
"The rising demand is mainly coming from power utilities,"
the coal ministry source said.
India's coal demand is set to jump to 980 million tonnes by
2017, but output in this period may only be 795 million tonnes,
India's Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said on Monday.
State-run Coal India, which accounts for about 80 percent of
the country's output, aims to produce 464 million tonnes in
2012/13, and has already scaled down output target to 440
million tonnes in 2011/12 because of regulatory hurdles.
Following the intense lobbying by the power sector, Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh has directed Coal India to guarantee
long-term supplies to the under-performing power sector, even if
it has to resort to imports.
But it was not immediately clear if the 2012/13 imports
include any overseas purchases by the coal monopoly, which is
seeking clarity on who will foot the extra costs of imports.
Erratic coal supply has derailed many power companies'
plans, including Essar Energy's three projects worth
$3.1 billion which it said was now on hold for want of coal.
Coal accounts for more than half of India's power generation
and will be required for about 85 percent of the 75,000 MW of
new capacity that is due to come online in 2017.
India's peak-hour power deficit is about 12 percent, a
shortage which many analysts say drags down economic growth.
(Writing by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Rajesh Pandathil)