New Delhi: Sources say PM Modi’s office may review the coal supply situation in India today, as the energy crisis threatens to lead to widespread blackouts in the country and several states.
On Monday, Home Minister Amit Shah met the ministers in charge of the coal and power ministries, Pralhad Joshi and RK Singh, to discuss worries about inadequate coal supply causing nationwide outages.
Many states have expressed their concerns to the Centre after weekend power outages, although the government has downplayed these fears, assuring enough coal stocks to meet the demands of power plants.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had raised the possibility of the capital facing power cuts, said the situation was “very critical” in the entire country.
“The situation is very critical in the entire country. Several chief ministers have written to the Centre about it. All are trying together to improve the situation,” Mr Kejriwal said on Monday.
His earlier comments about an impending crisis in Delhi had led to government assurances that the situation is under control and worries are “entirely misplaced”.
Union Power Minister RK Singh said “a panic has been unnecessarily created about coal shortage”, adding the situation will be handled in the next few days. Mr Singh also said that “sufficient power is available”.
States like Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu have raised concerns over blackouts.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel slammed the Centre for denying a coal crisis and questioned why power plants were shutting across the country.
“The Centre claims that there is no shortage of coal but power plants are shutting down…Why is it making false claims, coal import has also stopped… this will affect the power supply…What is the Centre doing?” Mr Baghel asked the central government on Monday.
BJP ally and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also talked about a possible coal shortage. “It is true there is a problem. As per our requirement, either we get it from NTPC or from private companies. But the supply is affected now. There are some reasons due to which such a situation has arisen. It is not only in Bihar but also everywhere,” he told reporters.
On Sunday, the Coal Ministry had said power plants have about 7.2 million tons of coal, enough to meet current needs. Coal India also has a stock of more than 40 million tons, said the ministry.
Responding to Delhi repeatedly sounding an alarm, the Ministry of Power today said it has issued directions to the country’s largest electricity producer, state-run NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) and Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) to supply as much power as available to the national capital.
Coal accounts for nearly 70 per cent of India’s electricity generation and around three-quarters of the fossil fuel is mined domestically.
The crisis, on a year of record coal production, is believed to be the result of a rain affecting movement of the fuel from mines to power generation units. This impacts electricity production in many states, including Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi and Tamil Nadu.
Another factor is that power plants that use imported coal have either reduced their output or completely stopped generating power as a spurt in international energy prices has made it difficult for them to meet the demand.