Even as several states have sounded alarm bell over a possible power outage due to shortage in coal supply to various thermal power plants, the government on Tuesday said it is in the process of replenishing the stock.
“The shortage of coal was due to international pricing and heavy rains. That is why imported coal plants were shut for about 20 days. But now the rain has receded. We have supplied coal and we are in the process of replenishing the stock. So the coal stocks have increased. There is no reason to panic," Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi said.
He said a record 1.95 million tonnes of coal was supplied on Monday. “We are hopeful that after the end of monsoon, the supply of coal will improve rapidly," Joshi said.
Earlier in the day, Joshi, along with Union Power Minister R.K. Singh, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed ways to improve coal supply to plants. Power Secretary Alok Kumar and Coal Secretary A.K. Jain briefed Modi on the availability of coal and power in the country.
Meanwhile, a News 18 report quoted sources as saying that the government is looking to utilise large imported coal-based power plants to meet the electricity demand.
On Monday, both Joshi and Singh had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah to brief him about the status of coal supply. Officials of National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) were also present at the meeting.
In a year when the country produced record coal, excessive rains in coal producing belt hit movement of the fuel from mines to power generation units, impacting power generation in many states including Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh.
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 power ministry had said in a statement that the total despatch of coal from all sources (Coal India Limited, Singareni Collieries Company, Captive Coal Mines and imported coal) on October 9 was 1.92 million tonnes (19.2 lakh tonnes) against the total consumption was 1.87 million tonnes (18.7 lakh tonnes).
With inputs from PTI