Coal stocks in India stood at 31.39 million tonnes as of July 19, sufficient to operate power plants for 23 days as against the normal requirement of 21 days, according to a government statement.
However, the coal stock position is on a decline since March this year, when the stocks hit 38.87 million tonnes, a four-year high. The stocks have been falling consistently to 35.92 million tonnes in April and further to 32.65 million tonnes next month. In June, the stocks stood at 30.51 million tonnes.
The details were given in a written reply by Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines, to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
The minister also informed that state-run miner Coal India Limited (CIL) has set a production target of 598.61 million tonnes for the current financial year, marking an increase of 11 percent over actual coal production of 538.75 million tonnes last year.
Higher coal output by CIL last year saw India's coal import bill decrease by Rs. 28,000 crore last financial year.
"Record coal production by CIL leads to a reduction in import by 34.26 million tonnes (MT). Results in a saving of Rs. 28,070 crore in foreign exchange during 2015-16," Coal Secretary Anil Swarup had tweeted in April.
"Coal imports came down by 27.4 percent from 27.4 MT during 2014-15 to 15.54 MT in 2015-16," he said in another tweet.
CIL meets about 81 percent of India's coal requirement from its 430 mines, of which 227 are underground, 175 open-cast and 28 mixed ones. It has eight subsidiaries.
India's coal reserves were estimated at about 301.56 billion tonnes by the Geological Survey of India in April 2014. The reserves were predominantly in Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra, CIL declared in its annual report for the year 2014-2015.
Coal-based electricity generation accounted for almost 85 percent of the total electricity produced in India during the April to February period in financial year 2015-2016, according a report by the Central Electricity Authority.
CIL shares closed at Rs. 332.40 apiece on the BSE on Monday, up 0.57 percent from their previous close.