Five of eight Coal India subsidiaries miss output target

Five of Coal India's eight subsidiaries failed to meet their production targets in the

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recently concluded financial year, hampering efforts to narrow the demand-supply gap.

Coal India Ltd, which accounts for over 80% of domestic output of the fuel, produced 462 million tonnes in the year ended March 31, against a target of 482 million tonnes, mainly due to the dismal show by the five units.

The state-owned mining company is the world's largest coal producer. A shortfall in production may widen the demand-supply gap, which is slated to rise to 185.5 million tonnes by 2016-17.

"Mahanadi Coalfields, the second-largest coal-producing subsidiary of Coal India, could record only 110 million tonnes as against a target of 120 million tonnes, while another important arm, Northern Coalfields, recorded an output of 69 million tonnes against a target of 72 million tonnes for 2013-14," a source said.

Central Coalfields Ltd produced 50 million tonnes against 54 million tonnes and output by Western Coalfields stood at 40 million tonnes, short of the target of 44 million tonnes, the source said.

North Eastern Coalfields produced 660,000 tonnes against the target of 1 million tonnes.

Three subsidiaries achieved or exceeded targets. South Eastern Coalfields Ltd met the target of 124 million tonnes.

Eastern Coalfields produced 36 million tonnes and Bharat Coking Coal's output was 33 million tonnes.

A Coal India official attributed the production shortfall mainly to reasons such as "environment clearance problem and also due to Cyclone Phailin."

The cyclone in October affected the key coal-producing states of Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

In 2012-13, Coal India produced 452.5 million tonnes of coal, short of the goal of 464 million tonnes.

Coal India's production target for 2014-15 has been set at 507 million tonnes.

Coal is the mainstay of India's energy programme as 70% of power generation is dependent on the dry fuel.

Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal recently said India needs to be "more aggressive" to boost production.

India is the third-largest producer of coal, after China and the US, and has 299 billion tonnes of resources and 123 billion tonnes of proven reserves, which may last for over 100 years.

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