New Delhi (Reuters) – India fell short of domestic coal supply targets to utilities by 7.6% in April, as output from mines owned by companies for self-use were 33% lower than required and a shortage of trains for delivery further exacerbated a crippling power crisis.
India faced its worst power crisis in over six years in April as demand hit a record high. Local supplies are crucial as coal inventories at utilities are at the lowest pre-summer levels in at least nine years and electricity demand is expected to rise at the fastest pace in nearly four decades.
India’s supply to the power sector in April was 61.72 million tonnes, the government said in a statement on Tuesday, 7.6% lower than the target of 66.8 million tonnes.
Production from the so-called captive mines, the output of which is reserved for self use, was 7.4 million tonnes in April, 33% short of an internal government target of 11 million tonnes.
The top bureaucrat at India’s power ministry said in a court-ordained meeting last week that the state-run Indian Railways had supplied an average of 390 trains for coal transport in April, 13.9% lower than requirement and 6% lower than its own target.
The Railways said last week it had increased the number of trains serving the power sector to 427 by rejigging priorities and cutting down on passenger trains to free up tracks.
Supplies to utilities by state-run Coal India (COAL.NS), which accounts for 80% of India’s annual coal output, were 49.7 million tonnes, 15.6% higher than last year but 2.5% lower than the target of 51 million tonnes. Singareni Collieries, another smaller state-run coal miner, marginally exceeded internal target.
Utilities’ inventories of coal were 21 million tonnes as on April 30, government data showed, down 14.4% from the beginning of the month and nearly a third lower than the target.