Coal Crisis: Power Cuts in Punjab, UP as Power Plants Run Out of Coal
Nearly half of India's coal-fired power plants have just three days of coal stocks left.
A severe shortage of coal across the nation has led to power cuts in the northern state of Punjab, after the state-owned Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), working at reduced capacity, imposed rotational load-shedding at several places, prompting a criticism of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government over the coal crisis, reported PTI.
Quoting a PSPCL official, the report said that power plans in Punjab had coal reserves that would last only five days. "Plants are running at a reduced capacity," the official said, while explaining why power cuts were being implemented to ration the depleting coal reserves available with plants.
Speaking on the crisis, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, on Saturday, 9 October, criticised the Union government for its failure to maintain coal supply, while dreading the shutdown of thermal power plants in Punjab if coal stocks are not replenished at the soonest.
While the state-owned thermal power plants in Ropar and in Lehra Mohabbat are left with four-five days of coal reserves, independent power producer plants are down to less than two days of stock.
The state, which had a demand of about 9,000 MW, has reported power cuts lasting two to three hours. Chief Minister Channi, in a statement, said that power cuts were being imposed on domestic consumers in cities and villages in order to ensure sufficient power supply to the agriculture sector.
Meanwhile, the crippling shortage of coal has forced eight thermal power plants in Uttar Pradesh (UP) to shut down – six more were already closed due to other reasons – taking the tally of non-operational plants to 14 in the state, reported DNA.
The state, which has a power demand of about 20,000 to 21,000 MW, has had to manage with a supply of about 17,000 MW, resulting in four to five-hour long power outages across the rural belt.
The supply gap created by the 14 non-operational power plans, which had a combined output of 4520MW, has pushed the per-unit cost of electricity to the highs Rs 20, forcing the state government to shell out Rs 15 to Rs 20 per unit.
Tweeting out his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday, 9 October, said that "Delhi could face a power crisis" if the present situation continues 'unabated'.
In his letter, Kejriwal maintained that immediate measures were needed to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity to the many "strategic and important installations" in Delhi.
He also stressed on the need for continuous power supply to essential services like cold chains for vaccination centres and hospitals, among others.
Rajasthan, too, on Friday, announced that it would impose scheduled power cuts for one hour everyday to deal with the coal crisis.
Why the Shortage?
India – the world's second-largest consumer of coal – has had to face a coal shortage in half of its 135 coal-fired power plants, which supply about 70 percent of its electricity.
According to Reuters, "India's power supply deficit in the first seven days of October amounted to 11.2% of the country's total shortages throughout the year."
The shortfall in India's power supply witnessed in the first week of October this year is 21 times more than the one witnessed in the same period last year.
Energy prices have soared globally due to a mismatch between demand and supply, following reopening of economies and increased consumption in the aftermath of multiple lockdowns necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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