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Amid electricity crisis, PMO to review coal situation

Some rural parts in UP have been facing power outages for five-six hours

narendra-modi-pti [File] Prime Minister Narendra Modi | PTI

As India grapples with a catastrophic coal shortage, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is set to hold a review meeting on worries of a power crisis.

This comes a day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah convened a meeting to discuss the problem with power minister R.K. Singh, coal minister Pralhad Joshi, and other cabinet ministers in charge of the coal and power ministries.

Despite the fact that coal minister Pralhad Joshi has stated that there is "absolutely no fear of disruption" in electricity delivery, many states have expressed grave concerns about blackouts caused by the coal scarcity.

At a time when the economy is growing up and electricity demand is increasing, most of India's coal-fired power facilities have critically low coal inventories.

Some rural parts in UP have been facing power outages for five-six hours due to a deficit of over 1,000 MW.

According to government data, 80 per cent of India's 135 coal-fired power plants had less than 8 days of supplies left as of October 6, with more than half of those having supplies worth two days or less.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, a BJP ally, also mentioned a possible coal shortage in his state. "There is an issue, to be sure. We either acquire it from NTPC or from private enterprises, depending on our needs. However, the supply is now impacted. There are several factors that have led to this scenario. It's not just in Bihar; it's all over the place "He informed reporters about it.

The Ministry of Power today asked the country's main energy producers, state-run NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) and Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), to give as much power as possible to the national capital in response to Delhi's repeated alarms.

Power outages have lasted up to 14 hours in states like Rajasthan, Jharkhand, and Bihar.

In Maharashtra, 13 thermal power facilities were shut down, and residents were asked to use electricity carefully, while in Punjab, three power plants were shut down. Protests erupted in Punjab as a result of scheduled power outages that can last up to six hours.

Over the past two decades, domestic coal production in India has continued to rise exponentially.

Energy providers have been accused of failing to stockpile sufficient amount to meet a plausible rise in demand.

Kerala faces a 300-400 MW power shortage due to decreasing coal supplies. To avoid load shedding, the Pinarayi government has decided to purchase expensive power from the exchange.

Few states have escaped the crisis, and Telangana should consider itself fortunate because it has the Singareni coal fields. It has enough thermal units in stock to last for the next 15 days. "Because we have Singareni, we have ample stocks," a senior TS Genco official explained.

Odisha, too, is in a good spot, with plenty of supplies. In any case, it is a power surplus state. Tamil Nadu has enough coal to last seven days.

Vibhuti Garg, a lead India economist for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told The Guardian, that there had been significant growth in electricity demand recently, as India had re-emerged from the Covid lockdown, but added that this had been anticipated months ago, so should not have taken power companies by surprise.

The strong monsoon rains of this year have also been blamed for disrupting domestic coal mining by causing floods and preventing coal from being dispatched from mines.

While this is not unusual, extra coal is normally imported to make up for the shortfall in production. However, due to a global energy crisis that has seen international prices reach record highs, importing more coal has been more of a financial burden, resulting in bigger shortages than usual.

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