A day after both the Union ministries of coal and power denied any energy shortage in the country, home minister Amit Shah held a meeting with the two ministers and officials of power and coal ministry.
TV footage indicated the meeting was also attended by officials from India’s largest state-owned power generator NTPC. Union minister for coal Pralhad Joshi and union minister for power, new and renewable energy R K Singh along with senior department officers attended the meeting.
Though there was no official statement from the government till late evening, people in the know said the meeting took stock of the coal situation as several states raised alarms over the shortfall and an impending electricity supply crisis.
Close to 16 Gw of coal based power generation capacity is under outage (not generating) for lack of coal supply, according to data on National Power Portal. The union ministry of coal in a public statement on Sunday said ample coal was available in the country to meet the demand of power plants.
State miner Coal India Ltd (CIL) on Monday said it had scaled up supplies to power utilities of the country to 1.51 million tonne (MTs) a day during the past four days of October.
The total off-take has gone up to 1.73 MTs per day during October (first 10 days) posting 10 per cent growth over the same period last year, CIL said.
“The aim is to ramp up supplies to the power sector even higher, which we hope to achieve post puja. Once the despatch rate is maintained the stock build up will help tide over the tight situation” said S.N. Tiwary, Director Marketing, CIL.
CIL in statement said coal supply to gencos was at an all time high till now this fiscal “but it is the never experienced before hunger for the dry fuel, spurred by an unmatched increase in power generation that upset the demand-supply scales”.
“Once October and major festival are over conditions will improve and the power demand is expected to be down by a notch, easing the pressure,” the company said adding it had to tackle the supply shortfall created by 14 imported coal-based power plants which scaled down their generation due to skyrocketing coal prices in the international markets.
Since August, coal stock levels at thermal units have dwindled. Currently, 16.8 Gw of power generation capacity has zero days of coal stock and 29 Gw has less than three days of coal. The coal ministry however said, the coal available at the power plants “is a rolling stock which gets replenished by the supplies from the coal companies on a daily basis.”
The power ministry in a statement on Sunday said, despite heavy rains in the months of August and September 2021, “a steep hike in power demand due to economic recovery and increase in prices of imported coal, domestic coal supply have sustained the operation of power plants and all out efforts are being made to ensure full power supply to the discoms as per their requirements.”
Several states have expressed their panic over shortage of coal, including the national capital of Delhi. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal last week, he asked the Centre to divert more coal and gas to power units supplying to the national capital. Pubjab, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala made similar demands.
Some of the state owned discoms have already alerted their consumers of power cuts and have urged them to use electricity judiciously.
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