Total steam coal imports for the period stood at 60.7 million tonnes, data from the commerce ministry showed.
Industry experts and officials attributed the drop to lower imports by power units, cheaper domestic supplies for the non-power sector, and better fuel planning.
Coal stock at power plants, both domestic and imported, did not deplete as much as anticipated from March till July, owing to favourable weather conditions and more opening coal stocks. However, imports were still needed to meet the total requirement, an official said.
While February was hotter than usual, March to May was cooler on average.
The government had directed electricity generators to import 6% of their fuel requirement in anticipation of higher demand in the summer months. However, the import by power generators for blending was less than 6%, the official said.While domestic coal supplies and increased captive coal output helped in maintaining sufficient stocks at power plants, blending of imported coal was still much needed.Earlier this month, the power ministry said that despite an increase in domestic coal supply in the first quarter of FY24, it wasn’t sufficient to meet the total requirement.