Reportage on a planet without equitable or sustainable development.
Why Coal India Could Not Up Its Production
For all the problems that plague thermal power plants across India — coal stocks of just one week or projects struggling to come up for want of assured coal — Coal India Limited is mostly cited as the fall guy. This Public Sector Undertaking, which holds a near monopoly on coal in India, has seen its output stagnate in the last three years. While it is plagued by internal inefficiencies, the stagnation of CIL’s production at 431 million tonnes (MT) a year is largely the outcome of events beyond its control.
Out today, the second part of the story that appeared yesterday: why Coal India could not meet its production targets. Briefly, there were two ways in which it could have boosted production as companies began stampeding into power generation — commission new mines or extract more from existing ones. In this story, I argue that the UPA asset-stripped Coal India, giving it far fewer coal blocks than it needed to meet the country’s demands. Instead, the centre gave away far more captive coal blocks than it needed to. Creating this situation where a handful of companies have coal while most other companies — about two lakh companies participate in Coal India’s e-auctions alone — are struggling for coal.
I am an Indian journalist with interests in energy, environment, climate and India’s ongoing slide into right-wing authoritarianism. My book, Despite the State, an examination of pervasive state failure and democratic decay in India, was published by Westland Publications, India, in January 2021. My work has won the Bala Kailasam Memorial Award; the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award; and five Shriram Awards for Excellence in Financial Journalism. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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