India should be able to end coal import by 2017, thereby saving precious foreign exchange, Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday.

"By 2017, India need not import coal, except for a few power plants on the coast where it is difficult to transport fuel," Goyal said at an energy conference organised here by international accounting firm KPMG.

"It will be the end of the era of shortages," he added.

Noting that India imported 215 million tonnes of coal last year, the minister said it was the "band-aid" kind of approach to energy problems in the past that led to this situation despite the country having the third largest coal reserves in the world.