The central government-owned Coal India Limited on Thursday said that it has floated an international tender to import 2.416 million metric tonnes, or MMTs, of coal to ensure there is adequate supply of the fuel for power plants in the country.

“In a first-ever, Coal India Limited on Wednesday floated an international competitive bidding e-tender, seeking bids for import of 2.41,6 million tonnes of coal,” the company said in a statement, reported PTI.

The development came after several parts of the country faced widespread power outages in April due to coal shortages in thermal plants.

Union Power Minister RK Singh, however, had claimed that problems in electricity supply were occurring not due to coal shortages. He had said that the shortages were because state governments had pending dues with Coal India Limited.

Singh had said that in April, 70 million units of peak power demand was not met across India. The corresponding figure in March was 14 million units, he had said.

Due to the shortages, the Railways cancelled some passenger trains in order to facilitate faster movement of trains carrying coal.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had described the power outages in the country as a “national crisis”.

On Thursday, Coal India Limited said that the coal is being imported on behalf of the state-run power generating companies (gencos) and independent power plants (IPPs), PTI reported.

“Though coal import is an uncharted terrain for CIL, within a week of receiving indents from the seven state gencos and 19 IPPs, for a total of 2.416 MMTs of coal, the company on a war footing has finalised and floated the tender,” it said.

The last date to send bids is June 29.

“Total quantity of Imported Steam Coal shall be delivered till September 30, 2022, as per delivery schedule to be given to the successful bidder by Coal India Limited,” the statement read. “Delivery schedule may be extended further at the sole discretion of Coal India Limited.”

Meanwhile, the Centre on Wednesday had said that the country’s coal production had increased by 33.88% to 71.30 million tonnes, or MTs, in May from 53.25 MTs as compared to the same month last year.

“At the same time, coal dispatch increased by 16.05% to 77.83 million tonnes from 67.06 million tonnes during May 2022 as compared to May 2021,” it said in a statement. “Of the top 37 coal producing mines, while 23 of them produced more than 100%, the performance of another 10 mines stood between 80% and 100%.”

It also said that coal-based power generation in May this year increased by 26.18% as compared to the same month last year.