Q: What is your take on noise over coal shortages?
A: Coal stock at the national level is adequate at 47 million tonnes which is enough for 23 days. Production is being ramped up, it will further accelerate and improve the situation. I can assure you there will not be coal and power shortages especially during the festive season. My senior minister Pralhad Joshi is traveling and personally monitoring the situation wherever there is a critical coal situation.
Q: Why Coal India and its arms did not make enough inventory in advance?
A: There are always limitations of holding inventory for CIL because beyond a certain point the stock cannot be maintained. The moment coal is produced it has to be dispatched to the respective destinations. The CIL has written several letters during January-June asking Maharashtra to lift its quota. But, the state simply chose not to do that. They informed us that they do not require stock now. So, it is the responsibility of the power plants to have enough stock much before the monsoon season starts so that the power demand for October due to consumption by agriculture and heat can be met. This time Maharashtra has totally messed up its management on coal.
Q: Why are states targeting the Centre for the coal shortages?
A: The states, which are not run by BJP, are unnecessarily engaged in blame game targeting the Centre that there is a coal shortage. On the contrary, there is no shortage of coal.
Q: Former coal secretary has claimed that CIL managers were deployed on Swachh Bharat Mission. What is your comment?
A: CIL’s production for the current year is more than the earlier average. CIL has increased the production. There is no question that CIL is not active on this front. The coal production has been more than 24% in current year compared to previous average.
Former coal secretary should not have made such a political statement because he is aware how CIL functions. Toilets, water, electricity were also needed. The Modi government is working on all fronts at a time to reach out to the public.
Coal requirement of India is 950 million tonnes of which CIL and its arms, sister concerns and other companies are producing in excess of 700 million tonnes annually and rest is imported that is 250 million tonnes. The thrust of the government is to reduce imports. Due to sudden increase in coal prices in the global markets from $90 to $200 per ton, 30% import has gone down in India. It has been tackled successfully by CIL as it has increased the production by 24%.
Q: Opposition claims that the coal shortage is government made and they link it to Adani Group’s plan to start coal export from Australia mine this year. How do you react?
A: It is a baseless allegation. The domestic coal production has gone up and it is being consumed domestically. As the power plants which could not make the adequate coal stock in advance are suffering due to logistic issues.