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Power crisis: Congress criticizes Centre’s move to cancel passenger trains to run coal rakes

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: As numerous states grapple with a severe coal scarcity, senior Congressman P Chidambaram has slammed the government’s decision to stop passenger trains in order to expedite coal rakes.

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He said, “Abundant coal, large rail network, unutilised capacity in thermal plants. Yet, there is acute power shortage. Modi Government cannot be blamed. It is because of 60 years of Congress rule!”

“Government has found the perfect solution: cancel passenger trains and run coal rakes!,” he added.

He said, further encircling the Centre on the subject, “There is no incompetence in the Ministries of Coal, Railway or Power. The blame lies with past Congress ministers of the said departments! Modi hai, mumkin hai.”
In the aftermath of a power outage in several regions of the nation, the railways have cancelled 42 passenger trains, causing difficulty to commuters travelling to and from coal-producing states such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand.

The coal-producing areas’ South East Central Railway (SECR) division has cancelled 34 passenger trains, while the Northern Railways (NR), which gets coal for several power plants in the north, has cancelled eight trains.

According to the Central Electricity Authority’s (CEA) daily coal stock report, 56 of 165 thermal power plants had 10% or less coal left, with at least 26 having less than 5%. Coal is responsible for 70% of India’s electrical consumption.

According to official data, some passenger services under the SECR, such as the Bilaspur-Bhopal train, which was suspended on March 28, will now remain suspended until May 3, while the MEMU between Maharashtra’s Gondia and Odisha’s Jharsuguda is cancelled from April 24 to May 23, and the Dongargarh-Raipur MEMU in Chhattisgarh is cancelled from April 11 to May 24.

The Northern Railways has cancelled four mail or express trains and as many passenger services as the SECR has cancelled 22 mail or express trains and 12 passenger trains.

Following the cancellations, the railways increased daily coal rake loading to over 400, the most in the preceding five years, according to the statistics.

According to railway officials, the national transporter has put in 533 rakes for coal duty every day, 53 more than last year. On Thursday, 427 rakes were loaded with 1.62 million tonnes of coal.

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