NEW DELHI: The national capital could face a power crisis, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal warned on Saturday.
Kejriwal has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention in making adequate arrangements of coal and gas to generation plants supplying electricity to the city.
“Delhi could face a power crisis. I am personally keeping a close watch over the situation. We are trying our best to avoid it. In the meanwhile, I wrote a letter to Hon’ble PM seeking his personal intervention,” Kejriwal said on Twitter.
Delhi could face a power crisis. I am personally keeping a close watch over the situation. We are trying our best t… https://t.co/2iEAZq84OD
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) 1633770425000
How much coal is left?
In India, over half of 135 coal-fired power plants, which supply around 70% of the country’s electricity, have fuel stocks to last less than three days.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Kejriwal said coal shortages had continued for three consecutive months, putting pressure on gas-fired power stations that also did not have adequate fuel.
The letter also mentioned that with the coal stock situation depleting in power generating stations, the dependence on gas stations supplying the power to Delhi increases. But, even the gas station supplying power to Delhi does not have adequate APM gas to run at full capacity, Kejriwal said.
Delhi stares at power ‘blackout
Delhi power minister Satyendar Jain on Saturday cautioned that there could be complete backout in the national capital after two days if power plants supplying electricity to the national capital do not receive an immediate supply of coal.
“There is an acute shortage of coal in coal-fired power plants across the country, even when production plants aren’t running at full capacity. There is only one day’s stock left in the plants from which Delhi gets electricity, there is no coal at all. We have a Power Purchase Agreement where they’re giving us half of the electricity. We’ve come to point of rationing,” Jain told news agency ANI.
Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL), which supplies power to north and northwest Delhi areas, has started sending SMS to its customers urging them to use electricity judiciously.
“Due to limited coal availability in generation plants across north, power supply scenario between 2 pm to 6 pm is at critical level. Kindly use electricity judiciously. Be a responsible citizen. Inconvenience caused is regretted,” read an SMS received by a TPDDL consumer in Burari.
Coal accounts for over 70 per cent of India’s electricity output, and around three-quarters of the fossil fuel is mined domestically.
Coal supplies in major plants across the country are at critically low levels. This means that the country may face power shortages in the coming months.
With economic and industrial activities picking up following the second wave of Covid-19, the demand for electricity has also witnessed a significant jump. This has led to a major shortage in supplies of coal and liquified natural gas (LNG).
The festival season has also added to the surge in demand for power.
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.
Coal India, which produces most of the country’s supply, has said it is on a “war footing” to ensure adequate deliveries.
Not just Delhi
Electricity supplies in Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh too have been impacted due to the coal crisis.
The Utkal Chamber Of Commerce & Industry Ltd (UCCI), an association of industries, has urged the Odisha government to ensure adequate supply of coal to state-based industries which are facing an acute shortage of dry fuel to run their units.
In a letter to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, the UCCI Friday said: “We would like to bring to your kind attention the current acute coal shortage situation in the state with many units having stock out or critical stock seriously affecting the viable operation of the industrial units.”
AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam on Friday expressed concern over the rapid depletion of fuel meant to fire the thermal plants.
The AIADMK leader said reports indicated that the State has only four days of stock with it and that it did not augur well on the power scenario. He said the coal stock at the thermal power stations declined as the Central allocation of coal was reduced by 20,000 tonnes per day.
“This is of grave concern. If this situation continues, then Tamil Nadu will plunge into a serious crisis, including power outages and economic slide. The Chief Minister should bestow attention on the issue and take up the matter with the Union coal minister to have the stocks replenished,” Panneerselvam said.
Rajasthan is resorting to one hour power cuts on a daily basis. Jharkhand and Bihar are also among the worst affected by the coal shortage. In Andhra Pradesh, acute supply shortfalls were pushing it towards unscheduled power cuts, adding that crops could dry up if there is no electricity to power irrigation pumps.
What is the Central government saying
Meanwhile, Union coal minister Pralhad Joshi has said that an increase in the international price of coal has led to its shortage and reduced power generation but assured that the situation will be “alright” in the next three to four days.
The power ministry on Saturday said Core Management Team (CMT) is closely monitoring & managing coal stocks on daily basis and ensuring follow up actions with Coal India Limited.
“Railways to improve the coal supply to power plants. Ministry of coal and Coal India Limited have assured that they’re making best efforts to increase dispatch to power sector to 1.6 MT/day in next 3 days & try to touch 1.7 MT/day. It’s likely to help in gradual build up of coal stocks at power plants in near future,” power ministry said in a statement.
“Unprecedented increase in electricity demand due to revival of the economy, heavy rains in coal mine areas in September, affecting coal production and rise in imported coal prices resulting in dependence on domestic coal are reasons behind the depletion of coal stocks at power plants,” it added.
(With agency inputs)