The supply of coal to the power sector by state-owned Coal India has dropped 22 per cent to 31.95 million tonnes in April amid slump in the fuel demand in the country on account of COVID-19-induced lockdown.
Coal India (CIL) had supplied 40.90 million tonnes (MT) of April, 2019, coal ministry said in a report.
CIL, the world's largest coal producing company, is a major supplier of the dry fuel to the power sector in India.
The coal supply by state-owned Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) to the power sector also dropped by 38.6 per cent to 2.86 MT in April, from over 4.66 MT in the year-ago period, the report said.
With the power sector, a major consumer of the dry fuel, witnessing a drop in fuel consumption amid the lockdown, CIL has shifted its focus to overburden removal -- the process of removing the top soil and rock to expose coal seams in its open cast mines.
The enhancement in overburden removal will enable CIL to accelerate production whenever the demand picks up and coal can be supplied to its customers at short notice.
Over 95 per cent of CIL's production comes from its 171 open cast mines.
The PSU removed 114.43 million cubic metres of overburden in its open cast mines in April 2020, as compared to 104.22 million cubic metres a year ago, registering an increase of 9.7 per cent.
A Central Electricity Authority (CEA) report said that as on April 30, 2020, there were 50.89 MT of coal stocked up at the power houses in India, enough to last for 31 days.
CIL itself has a pit-head stock of about 76 MT as on April 30.
The PSU is in regular touch with its customers, especially in the southern states, and is pursuing them to increase the intake of domestic coal as a substitute for imported coal.
CIL, which accounts for over 80 per cent of domestic coal output, is eyeing one billion tonne of production by 2023-24.