Reports of depleting coal reserves at power stations have created panic about an impending energy crisis across India. Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi, Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy Raj Kumar Singh, and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw may hold a meeting on Tuesday to deliberate on the situation.
Satyendar Jain, Delhi’s power minister, warned residents of an acute coal shortage in thermal power plants across the country. “There is an acute shortage of coal in coal-fired power plants across the country. There is only one-day’s stock left in the plants from which Delhi gets electricity, there is no coal at all,” he told reporters. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging for his intervention in ensuring power plants supplying electricity to Delhi have access to sufficient quantities of coal and gas.
Meanwhile, Ganesh Srinivasan, CEO, Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited said the national capital might witness intermittent and rotational load shedding in the coming days as coal-based power stations are left with coal stocks that will last one-two days. Late last week, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) in a report said that of the 135 power plants it monitors across the country, 64 non-pithead power plants are left with coal stocks for less than four days of supply.
However, the Union power minister said concerns over disruptions in power supply and depleting coal stocks were misplaced and erroneous. He even lashed out at the Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) and Tata Power for creating panic about a power crisis.
“I have warned Tata Power CEO of action if they send baseless SMSs to customers that can create panic. Messages by GAIL and Tata Power qualify as acts of irresponsible behavior,” Singh said and added that neither there was, nor there is any crisis. “It was created unnecessarily.”
The coal ministry, in an official statement, on Sunday said ample coal is available in the country to meet demand of power plants. “Any fear of disruption in power supply is entirely misplaced. The coal stock at power plant end is about 72 lakh tonnes, sufficient for four days requirement, and that the Coal India Ltd end is more than 400 lakh tonnes,” it said. “On 9th October, the total dispatch of coal from all sources was 1.92 million tonnes, while the total consumption was 1.87 million tonnes. Thus, the coal dispatch exceeded consumption, thereby indicating shift to gradual building up of coal stock.”
It should be noted that Coal India Ltd (CIL) has, in the recent past, raised concerns over inadequate coal stocks at power plants. According to Mint, CIL has been requesting power houses to increase stocks to prevent any crisis resulting from shortage of coal. “Power plants may further be requested to source and meet additional requirements in aforesaid manner at the earliest to build up the necessary stocks considering the upcoming summer and monsoon seasons to prevent the occurrence of any generation loss on account of shortage of coal,” CIL said in a letter.
Furthermore, the company’s spokesperson revealed that CIL has been requesting power gencos to build up stock by lifting coal so that generation does not suffer during the summer and monsoon seasons.