New Delhi: It is likely that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office may review the coal supply situation today, say sources, as an energy crisis threatens to cause widespread blackouts in India.
Union minister for coal Pralhad Joshi said on Monday that India had a record coal supply and the Coal India and Coal Ministry are making full efforts to meet the demand. Coal India Limited currently has 22 days' stock of coal, he added amid concerns over blackout in several states.
"Yesterday 1.95 million tonnes of coal was supplied which is a record till date. We will continue to increase the supply of coal at a fast pace. We are hopeful that after the end of monsoon, the supply of coal will improve rapidly," Joshi said.
On Monday, Home Minister Amit Shah had met the ministers in charge of the coal and power ministries to discuss the situation. During the hour-long meeting, the ministers were believed to have discussed the availability of coal to power plants and the current power demands. Top officials of the power and coal ministries attended the meeting. The meeting comes in the wake of several states warning of a possible power crisis due to the shortage of coal supply to power plants, officials said.
According to data, power consumption of 3,900 MU on October 8 was the highest this month so far (from October 1 to 9), and this also became a cause of concern during the ongoing coal shortage.
Another factor that has contributed to the present crisis is power plants, that used imported coal to generate electricity, have either curtailed generation or completely stopped, as a spurt in international energy prices has made it difficult for them to meet the commitments to states at a particular rate.
The latest available data of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) showed that coal stocks at power plants on October 7 were not adequate, as there were 16 plants with a cumulative capacity of 16,880MW which had zero days’ worth of the dry fuel.
Yesterday 1.95 million tonnes of coal was supplied which is a record till date. We will continue to increase the supply of coal at a fast pace. We are hopeful that after the end of monsoon, the supply of coal will improve rapidly, Union minister for coal Pralhad Joshi said
Many states have flagged concerns but the Centre has downplayed fears, assuring enough coal sticks to meet the demands of power plants. The Coal Ministry said on Sunday power plants have about 7.2 million tons of coal. Coal India also has a stock of more than 40 million tons, said the ministry, calling fears of power cuts "entirely misplaced".
The Power Ministry had said the unprecedented increase in electricity demand due to revival of the economy is one of the reasons behind depletion of coal stocks at power plants. Heavy rains in coal mine areas in September have affecting coal production and a rise in imported coal prices resulting in dependence on domestic coal are also some of the reasons behind the coal shortage in the country, the Power Ministry added.
The Power Ministry further said it has set up a Core Management Team (CMT) which is closely monitoring and managing coal stocks on daily basis. The team is ensuring follow-up actions with Coal India Limited and Railways to improve the coal supply to power plants, added the Ministry.