Imports have risen over the past four years as India adds capacity to supply round-the-clock power to its 1.2 billion people, a third of whom live without electricity.

Lower-than-expected output from state giant Coal India is also boosting imports.

At 163 million tonnes, imports of thermal coal used by power companies jumped 22 percent in 2014. Coking coal, a steelmaking raw material, saw a 4 percent rise to 37 million tonnes, according to the provisional data from a online trader.

Anthracite coal, met coke and pet coke made up the rest of the shipments. Imports fell slightly in December to 15.30 million tonnes as good weather helped Coal India ramp up supply.

Coal India may not maintain the pace in January: workers at the world's top coal producer began a five-day strike on Tuesday in protest at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move to allow private companies to mine and sell the fuel for the first time in 42 years.

The government does not regularly release coal import figures. The data is based on port figures, monitoring of vessel positions and data from shipping firms.

Latest News  from Business News Desk