Coal India may import coal to ensure adequate fuel to power firms

Last Updated: Sat, Apr 07, 2012 09:37 hrs

In a bid to meet the obligations of supplying a minimum assured quantity of coal to power producers under the Presidential directive, Coal India (CIL) may resort to imports, its Chairman and Managing Director designate S Narsing Rao today said.

"We have to see how much we can increase production to meet the commitment. CIL will do the imports if it is inevitable," Rao, who is currently heading state-run Singareni Collieries told PTI.

The company earlier had expressed inability to import saying it was not in the business of importing coal.

The government on April 3 issued a Presidential directive to the Maharatna PSU to sign fuel supply agreements (FSAs) with the power producers assuring them of at least 80% of the committed coal delivery.

The directive came in the wake of Coal India failing to meet the deadline of March 31, set by the Prime Minister's Office for CIL to enter into FSAs with power producers for minimum assured supply.

When asked about the options of imports following PMO's directives to ink FSAs, CIL's acting Chairperson Zohra Chatterji in February had said, "We are not in the business of importing coal...It is one of the ways to meet the demand theoretically."

Rao, who is due to take the charge of the company shortly, said the PSU would weigh various options of importing coal that will include direct imports, if required.

"Coal India may import directly. At the same time there are public sector undertaking like MMTC which are there for a long time in the business. They have expertise...All options we should see if that [import] is inevitable...," Rao said.

Asked, how, he views the Presidential directive at a time when the company is battling on various fronts including delays in regulatory clearances, Rao said, "It is a very logical directive. They are only saying that supply more coal."

Rao, who was handed over the appointment letter for Coal India's top post on April 4, added that apart from imports, the company may also think of diverting coal meant for e-auction to power firms.

The Rs 50,000 crore PSU is the largest domestic producer of dry-fuel and recorded an output of 435.84 million tonne of coal in the just-concluded fiscal, missing its revised target of 447 mn tonne.

It's production is almost stagnant for the last three years as the company says it is battling to get various regulatory clearances for expansion to augment production.

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