Power Woes: Union Government Steps In After Reports Of Coal Shortage From Some States

by Swarajya Staff - Oct 12, 2021 01:59 PM
Power Woes: Union Government Steps In After Reports Of Coal Shortage From Some StatesA coal mine.
Snapshot
  • As some states are reporting shortage of coal for producing electricity, the Union government is working on finding a solution to the problem.

According to reports, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is likely to review coal positions at thermal power plants across the country amid states reporting low coal stocks and resorting to load-shedding.

This comes after Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday (11 October) held an hour-long meeting with Power Minister R K Singh and Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi on the availability of coal for power plants and the current electricity demand, reports Economic Times.

Massive Dues On States With Alarmingly Low Stocks

Coal generates about 70 per cent of India’s electricity, shortages of which have left multiple states with supply enough to generate power only for a few days. Ideally, states do keep a stock for 15 to 30 days. A major contributing factor to this impending energy crisis is the non-payment of massive dues to the coal companies by many states.

The Power Ministry has written letters to four states — Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Rajasthan — directing them to clear their pending dues immediately. These states have among the highest thermal capacities that have either zero days of stock or just one day of stock as on 10 October.

On 10 October, Uttar Pradesh had 2,000 MW of capacity that had zero days of coal stock, Maharashtra had 1,920 MW of capacity with zero stock. Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan had 1,500 MW and 500 MW of capacity with zero days of stock respectively.

The outstanding dues of the Maharashtra state utility to Coal India were Rs 3,176.1 crore at the end of FY21, while the dues of Uttar Pradesh utility were Rs 2,743.1 crore. Dues of the Tamil Nadu state utility were Rs 1,281.7 crore, and that of the Rajasthan state utility were Rs 774 crore.

Outstanding dues of state electricity boards and power generation companies to Coal India Ltd, which accounts for about 80 per cent of India’s coal output, were Rs 21,619.7 crore at the end of FY21, reports The Indian Express.

Any Attempts On Part Of The States To Mitigate The Energy Crisis?

As per reports, Uttar Pradesh needs about 18,000 megawatts, the state is able to generate around 14,000 megawatts of power only, thereby forcing unscheduled power cuts in various district headquarters, towns and villages.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in a review meeting on Monday, directed the officials concerned to ensure uninterrupted power supply, in wake of the festive season, between 6 pm and 7 am to both urban and rural areas. Adityanath asked the UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) chairman M Devraj to assess the coal availability in all power plants and take necessary steps to mitigate the crisis.

To meet the shortage of electricity, UPPCL is buying extra power on an emergency basis, reports Times of India.

Power supply situation continued to remain grim in Punjab with the state-owned utility Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), on Sunday (10 October), saying up to three-hour daily power cuts will remain in the state until 13 October. As the power plants in the state are operating at less than 50 per cent of their generation capacity, the PPCL is forced to resort to cut down power generation and impose load shedding.

Rajasthan is resorting to one hour power cuts on a daily basis. Tata Power, which has signed contracts to supply 1,850 MW of electricity to Gujarat, 475 MW to Punjab, 380 MW to Rajasthan, 760 MW to Maharashtra and 380 MW to Haryana from its imported coal-based power plant at Mundra in Gujarat, has stopped generation, reports The Mint.

The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation also informed in advance about random power cuts in Chennai, and across the state for “maintenance work”.

In Maharashtra, 13 units at seven thermal power plants that supply to the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited are in shutdown mode as of now, reported the Times of India on Monday. As per reports, there is a huge shortage of about 33,000 megawatts in the state.

MSEDCL managing director Vijay Singhal said that the power crisis is a countrywide problem, but the firm was trying to tackle it without power cuts. The state is also exploring to fulfil the energy requirement from other power sources such as hydroelectricity.

State Energy Secretary Dinesh Waghmare told The Indian Express that Maharashtra’s coal reserves will last for one-and-a-half days. “We are repeatedly asking the Centre to give us coal,” he said. “The coal sent to us is not sufficient. At this rate, we will have to do load shedding,” reports Scroll.in.

The state’s energy department has issued an advisory requesting “judicious” use of electricity.

Many other states such as Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana etc, are also keeping stock of the situation and taking necessary steps to avoid situations like a complete blackouts etc.

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