New Delhi : As India faces widespread power outages with plants running out of coal, the government today assured enough supply to meet the nation’s power needs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office is likely to assess the situation, sources say.
Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi said Coal India currently has 22 days of coal stock and the supply is rising. “We want to assure the whole country that coal will be made available as per the requirement,” he said.
According to government data, the coal stock situation in thermal power stations shows that 115 of 135 centrally-monitored power stations in the country are facing a “critical or super critical” shortage of coal. There are less than four days of coal in 70 power plants.
The government has allowed power producers to expedite imports of coal to use with the domestic grade to meet increased power demand – a move that could push up already high global prices.
So far, power plants that use local coal import little. The government’s note said supply from state-run Coal India is not enough, with the surge in electricity consumption, leading to a change in government policy on coal imports.
Earlier today, the power ministry warned states that power producers would curtail supplies of electricity to them if their utilities are found selling power on exchanges to take advantage of surging prices.
Some states, instead of supplying electricity to their consumers, are imposing rolling power cuts known as load-shedding, and selling power at higher prices to energy exchanges, the ministry said in a statement. States that do this risked having federally supplied power, known as unallocated power, cut, it said.
If states are not serving their customers but are “selling power in the power exchanges at a higher rate, the unallocated power of such states shall be withdrawn and allocated to other needy states,” the ministry said.
On Monday, Home Minister Amit Shah met the ministers in charge of the coal and power ministries, Pralhad Joshi and RK Singh. Many states have expressed concern after weekend power cuts. States that have flagged a crisis are Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu.
Coal accounts for nearly 70 percent of India’s electricity generation and around three-quarters is mined domestically. The crisis, on a year of record coal production, is believed to be the result of rain affecting the movement of the fuel from mines to power generation units.
To add to the crisis, power plants that use imported coal have also either reduced their output or have completely stopped generating power because of a spurt in international energy prices.
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