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The Curious Case of “Other” Coal

India is one of the largest consumers of coal globally, ranking second after China in terms of coal usage (Statista, 2022). However, the country lacks documentation in terms of all of its sector specific usage. According to the Coal Controller’s Organisation (CCO), the power sector remains the largest
coal user in 2020-21 with 580.558 MT (84.03 percent) dispatched to them in that year (CCO, 2021). This was followed by the steel (8.943 MT), sponge iron (9.572 MT) and cement (6.751 MT) among
others (CCO, 2021).

The Ministry of Coal (MoC) in its annual report of 2020-21 has also specified that, the coal of Coal India Limited (CIL) is dispatched to the power sector, steel, cement and to some unspecified users, which the MoC has termed as ‘OTHERS’ (MoC, 2021). Coal utilisation by the ‘others’ has increased from 9.94 percent in 2019 to 13.21 percent in 2020, whereas for power, cement etc. usage has come down from 2019 to 2020 (MoC, 2021). The term ‘others’, however, has no further industry-wise breakup.

Yearly trend of data in terms of pan India coal distribution to this ‘others’ showed that the concerned regulatory body has hardly made any attempt to document this unspecified ‘others’ user of coal. Rather, it continues to focus only on a few coal usage sectors, by notifying standards for various emission and effluent parameters for them. ‘Others’ continues to remain unexplained and subsequently unaddressed. The multi-level stakeholders engaged in coal handling has also not found it necessary to specifically deal with coal handled by the ‘others’. RTI responses from various departments have substantiated this fact.