12 Oct 2021: PMO to review coal shortage situation amid impending power crisis
Amid concerns about a critical coal shortage in the country, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) will conduct a review meeting Tuesday to take stock of the situation. The meeting comes after several states flagged the issue of shortage and expressed fears of blackouts. However, Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi downplayed the crisis, saying there was "absolutely no threat of disruption" in the electricity supply.
Details: Power, Coal Secretaries to be present at review meet
During the meeting, the PMO is likely to review the coal stocks at major thermal power stations across the country. Both the Power and Coal Secretaries are likely to be present during the meeting and will make a presentation on the issue, CNN-News18 reported. Their presentation will reportedly highlight the overall situation and steps to be taken to resolve the crisis.
Fact: Several states wrote to PM flagging the crisis
The review meeting came after many states wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the shortage of coal at power plants. The states of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, etc., reported alarmingly low coal stocks and expressed fears of blackouts.
Recent news: Amit Shah chaired meeting with Power, Coal Ministers yesterday
On Monday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a meeting with Power Minister RK Singh and Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi to discuss the issue. Senior bureaucrats and officials from the state-run energy conglomerate National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Limited were also in attendance at the meeting. Shah reportedly enquired about the availability of coal for power plants and the current electricity demand.
Fact: 'Critical, super critical' shortage of coal in central power stations
Government data showed that coal stocks at 115 out of 135 centrally monitored power stations in the country are facing a "critical or supercritical" shortage of coal. Incidentally, coal is used to produce roughly 70% of India's power.
Coal: Coal supplies to increase further after Durga Puja: Coal India
Meanwhile, Coal India told The Economics Times that coal supply to power plants has been increased to 1.51 million tonnes per day. It said the supply would increase further after the Durga Puja ends on Friday. Last week, the Centre had said that it is putting up efforts to increase the coal supply to 1.7 million tonnes per day.
States: States resort to load-shedding; situation to improve soon
Due to the shortage, Rajasthan, Punjab, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh are resorting to load-shedding. However, officials said the situation will improve in the next three days. Delhi Power Minister Satyender Jain said Tuesday that power plants in the national capital are now left with two to three days of coal stock. Meanwhile, Tamil Nadi and Odisha maintained that they have comfortable coal stocks.
Default dues: States defaulting on dues causing shortage: Official
Separately, a central government official told ET that the current shortage is acute in states that have defaulted their dues to coal companies. These states, they said, include Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and UP. According to ET, the pending dues of power generating plants to Coal India amount to Rs. 18,000 crore. Meanwhile, 13 power units in Maharashtra had to shut down due to the shortage.
Other developments: Centre asks states to use unallocated power from central plants
Meanwhile, the Power Ministry has asked the states to utilize "unallocated power" of central generating stations (CGS) to mitigate their shortages. Notably, 15% of power from all CGS is kept as "unallocated power." The Power Ministry has also directed the NTPC and Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) to supply as much power as available to the national capital.
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