Union minister for renewable power, coal and mines Piyush Goyal on Saturday said that despite the ample coal availability, the country has to import coal mainly to meet the needs of power plants with an installed capacity of 83,100 MW power projects as they are designed to run on imported coal and not on domestic coal which contains 40% fly ash. The union minister of state for power, renewable power, coal and mines Piyush Goyal said “These plants have become an albatross around my neck. The power generated by these plants is costly. The imported coal-based power plants were planned despite India has third largest coal reserves. At the same time, we have to regulate coal production as nearly 55 million tonnes of coal is gathered at the pithead coal mines for low demand especially from states,” he said. The union minister, who was speaking at the sidelines of a conference on the power sector, said the country is also facing another problem where in the power generation plants are purchasing low coal quantity not to block the working capital. “The coal production in the first quarter was brought down by 5% also to avoid fire in coal mines.’’
Goyal said the coal shortage has become a thing of past. Besides, the government’s efforts during last three years have paid off as none of the coal based power plants are now facing any coal shortage. He informed that the energy and peak demand shortages too have drastically come down and the states can now even trade on power exchanges. Besides, states can book power through an app launched by the power ministry. “Today, the electricity is priced at Rs 2.52 per unit in the whole country,” he added.
Further, India is now power surplus and exporting power to all SAARC countries barring Pakistan. However, he admitted that despite surplus coal, India cannot export it due to 40% fly ash content and the higher transportation cost. On meeting target set by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2015 to electrify 18,000 villages from remote areas in 1,000 days, the minister informed that so far 14,700 have been electrified and the balance 3,800 will be electrified ahead of schedule. On the government’s initiative to promote LED lights, Goyal said as on date 24 crore have been sold out. The target is to sell 77 crore LED lights in five years. “With the use of 100% LED, India can save Rs 40,000 crore and 112 billion units of electricity per year. Efforts are to create a favourable environment for LED use by one and all by 2019,’’ he noted.