“We are not facing any issues at the moment regarding shortages as such. But the NTPC Farakka unit has let us down badly. They are giving us around 200MW against the 700MW that they should be giving. That is because of the coal problem that they are facing,” a senior state government official said.
According to media reports, state power minister, Aroop Biswas, assured a few days back that there will be uninterrupted power supply during Durga Puja in West Bengal.
The looming power crisis in other states is due to shortage of coal, which is led by supply woes and rising cost of imported coal. However, the government official said, “Our captive mines have given us the advantage. We have a 3 to 4-day stock and have no interruption in coal supply due to which we have our head above water.” The ratio of coal from the state’s own mines to Coal India is 70:30.
Conventionally, demand during Durga Puja peaks especially on the first two days when shops and factories continue to operate while puja revelry begins. Demand tapers down when factories and retail outlets shut shop from Saptami onwards. The peak evening demand is 7000MW in WBSEDCL areas.
WBSEDCL has a customer base of more than 2.03 crore and is responsible for providing power to 96 per cent of West Bengal. Apart from state’s own units, power demand in West Bengal is met by CESC, India Power and DVC (Damodar Valley Corporation).
However, even as most of West Bengal is not facing major power cuts, some industrial units said that for the last 7 days, there had been power cuts.
“Previously, there was no power cut. But for the last seven days, scheduled and non-scheduled power cuts were happening. Our supplier is basically Damodar Valley Corporation,” said Vivek Adukia, chairman, Steel Re-Rolling Mills Association of India and group CEO of Adukia group. Adukia has steel units in Bardhaman, Purulia and Jamuria.
However, Adukia said that he was yet to take it up with the authorities as the reason cited was periodical maintenance.
In the foundry belt of Howrah, there was no power cut, informed Santosh Upadhyay, general secretary, Howrah Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Shankar Lal Agarwal, president, West Bengal Sponge Iron Manufacturers Association, said that it was the acute shortage of coal that had impacted capacity utilization. Capacity utilization had dropped to 60 per cent current from 80-90 per cent even a month and a half back, he said. Thermal coal is a basic raw material for producing sponge iron, which is used by small and medium secondary steel producers for making steel through the electric arc furnace route.