New Delhi: The Central government has worked to ensure superior coal quality for consumers along with a focus on lowering the cost of electricity, Railway and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday.
Speaking here on the achievements of the Modi government, Goyal said the historic reforms undertaken in the coal sector, including allowing commercial mining, have led to increased energy capacity and fuel efficiency in the country.
The Minister said that while coal production had gone up by unprecedented levels during this period, the efforts towards quality improvement had reduced the amount of coal required per unit of electricity in the country.
"The Ministry has worked for ensuring superior coal quality by setting up third-party sampling procedures. The Uttam app has been launched for ensuring transparency and efficiency in the coal monitoring process," he said.
"Degradation has been done of all mines of Coal India and Singareni Collieries by the Coal Controller.
"Focus has been on the cost of electricity through lower cost and higher quality ... and the Specific Coal Consumption, or the amount of coal required per unit of electricity, has been cut by 8 per cent in the last four years," he told the media.
The Minister also said that the 105 million tonnes of increased production achieved by state miner Coal India in the last four years took almost seven years to achieve in the period prior to 2013-14.
Coal India produced about 462 million tonnes of the fossil fuel in 2013-14 and it ended the last financial year (2017-18) with a production of over 567 million tonnes.
In view of the "feeling of coal shortages" in power plants, he said: "Obviously, coal output involves land acquisition, installation of necessary equipment and a whole cycle. As the demand is growing very rapidly in the last 8-9 months, the so-called feeling of (coal) shortages has crept in. The Coal and Railway ministries are working together to ensure that at no point in time, anybody loses the ability to generate power for lack of availability of coal."
The state-run miner had recently said that coal dispatch to the power sector grew by 15 per cent in the April-May period of the current fiscal.
The efforts of the Coal Ministry, the miner and the Ministry of Railways had helped reduce imports of the fuel in the last four years, while previously its imports were increasing gradually, he said.
Goyal also pointed out that the miner had been meeting the demand of power plants amid the reduction in coal imports, fall in hydropower generation and increase in power demand.
On the outlook for coal demand, he said: "I think there will be robust demand for coal, going forward. We are trying to encourage power plants, which are based on imported coal, to re-design their capacities so that they can use more domestic coal."
With the closure of some of the import-based plants following a Supreme Court verdict, there had been an increased load on domestic coal, he said.
He described commercial coal mining as the "most ambitious reform" in the sector.
"As far as the commercial coal is concerned, the process is underway. I had some discussions with the unions. We are also looking at more mines being auctioned out for power, non-power sectors," Goyal said.
As many as 89 coal mines have been auctioned and all revenues allotted to coal-mining states, he said.
"Most of the mines were allotted to state governments or state utilities. NTPC, NLC India and some other companies are doing quick work on that, even though some of the state governments have been lagging. We are pursuing them to proceed faster," Goyal added.