How did Coal India fare in addressing this increased demand? Since April 2016, TPPs started reducing their coal stock. This led to a concomitant increase in the pithead stock of Coal India. On April 1, 2017, the coal stock of TPPs was 28 MT; 11 MT less than the stock held a year back. In the same period, there was a substantial rise in pithead stock kept by Coal India — from 38 MT to 68 MT. Incidentally, this was an all-time high level of pithead stock. This reaffirms the broad trends in coal production. In the last three years, there has been a huge increase in aggregate production by Coal India. Thus, it would be misleading to claim a shortage of coal by merely looking at the number of coal plants with low stock.
Concentrated steps by Coal India have resulted in a substantial increase in supply to the power sector over the last two months. In August, coal supplies were 14.4% greater than in August 2016. Similarly, the supply in September grew by 21%. The growth could be even higher for October (29% until October 11). In September 2017, 193 rakes were supplied daily to the power sector, which has further increased to 206 in October. To ensure availability of rakes for long-distance supply, plants within 60 kilometres have been asked to make greater use of roadways for coal transportation.
Overall, until now, the coal offtake of Coal India has grown by 8.3% this fiscal year. This increase in supply for TPPs does not seem to be coming from a massive reduction in pithead stock or transfer from other sectors. In this period, there has also been a substantial growth in coal production. For instance, September saw a 10% growth in production as compared to September 2017.
In the data, it is evident that availability of surplus coal with Coal India has allowed the government to tide over the increased demand.