While several thermal power stations across India have shut and the state governments are warning citizens of possible power cuts due to a shortage of coal, the Centre has assured that there is no need to worry. Here are all the top developments so far.
Three thermal power stations shut in Punjab. Four in Kerala. Thirteen in Maharashtra. All due to a shortage of coal.
Fearing a possible power crisis, the chief ministers of Karnataka and Punjab have requested the Centre to increase coal supply to their states. Maharashtra’s energy department has urged citizens to save electricity and the Kerala government warned that they may have to resort to load-shedding. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene so that coal and gas can be diverted to plants that supply electricity.
Meanwhile, Union Power Minister R K Singh on Sunday stated that there was no power shortage in Delhi and assured that coal supply will be maintained going forward. Singh said the country is four days ahead of the average requirement of coal per day and an “unnecessary panic” was being created over the issue.
The states definitely seem to be panicking. The Centre believes there is no need to worry. Here are all the top developments regarding coal shortage and the possible power crisis in India.
WHAT DOES THE DATA SAY?
According to Central Electricity Authority of India data, the country is facing an unprecedented shortage of coal stocks in thermal plants which could lead to a power crisis. On October 5, out of 135 thermal plants that use coal for power generation, 106 or nearly 80 per cent were either in the critical or supercritical stage, i.e. they had stocks only for the next 6-7 days.
WHAT IS THE CENTRE SAYING?
On Sunday, Union Power Minister R K Singh assured that coal supply will be maintained going forward.
“I have asked the Gas Authority of India Ltd to continue supplying the required amount of gas to power stations across the country. He has assured me that the supplies will continue. Neither was there any shortage of gas in the past, nor will it happen in the future,” he said.
The Coal Ministry said the country has adequate coal stocks and low inventory doesn’t mean power generation would stop as stock is being continuously replenished.
WHAT IS THE SITUATION IN THE STATES?
With 13 thermal power plants shut in Maharashtra due to shortage of coal, Maharashtra State Electricity Regulatory Commission (MSEDCL) appealed to citizens to use electricity sparingly during peak hours.
In a circular, the energy department said, “Due to shortage of coal, 13 sets of various thermal power plants supplying power to MSEDCL have been shut down at present. As a result, 3330 MW power supply has been cut off. Efforts are being made to provide power supply from hydropower and other sources, including emergency procurement, to fill the power gap.”
On Sunday, Kerala Electricity Minister K Krishnankutty said the state government may have to resort to load-shedding in case shortage of power from the Central pool continues for a long time due to non-availability of coal for thermal power plants.
For the past few days, the State has been experiencing a shortage of 15 per cent of power from the Central pool due to the closure of four thermal stations due to coal shortage. However, there has been no load-shedding till now.
Three thermal power plants have been forced to shut down in Punjab and Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has requested the Centre to increase coal supply to the state.
Against the installed capacity of 5,620 megawatts, the state’s thermal power plants are only able to generate 2,800 megawatts at present. As a result of coal shortage, thermal power plants in Punjab including Lehra Mohabbat, Ropar (Roopnagar), Rajpura, Talwandi Sabo and Goindwal Sahib – can only generate power for one to four days.
Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has been forced to buy power from private firms and neighbouring states on an exchange basis. The coal shortage has forced PSPCL to resort to power cuts from three to six hours, sparking protests in different parts of the state.
In view of a possible power crisis in Karnataka due to shortage of coal, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Sunday said he has asked the Centre to increase coal supply to the state.
“I have already stated that we have requested the Centre to increase the supply of coal by four racks,” he said.
He said Karnataka has got an allotment of coal from mines in Chandrapur in Maharashtra and Mahanadi Coalfields Limited in Odisha and both the projects need clearances. He has requested the Union government to expedite the process, he said.
On Saturday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that the national capital could face a power crisis due to coal shortage and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene so that coal and gas can be diverted to generating plants that supply electricity.
Following the Centre’s reassurance on Sunday, Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia alleged that the Centre is not ready to accept that there is a coal crisis in the country and likened the situation to the oxygen crisis during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Aam Aadmi Party leader said the Centre’s policy to “turn a blind eye” to every problem could prove fatal for the country.
In the meantime, Madhya Pradesh Energy Minister Pradhuman Singh Tomar had claimed that his state is in a better position. The minister said the state government has floated tenders to purchase eight metric tonnes of coal for its power stations.
“The crisis is at the national level, and Madhya Pradesh is in a better position in this situation,” he said. He added that the state’s daily power demand was being fulfilled.
“I think we will soon get rid of this crisisThere is no imminent crisis in the state. But we can’t predict accidental happenings,” he added.
POSSIBLE REASONS FOR COAL SHORTAGE IN INDIA
Some possible reasons for the coal shortage India is excess rainfall hitting coal movement and imported coal-based power plants generating less than half of their capacity due to record high prices.