Centre Also Said There Was No Oxygen Crisis, Delhi Deputy CM on Coal Shortage
"When we had an oxygen crisis, they kept saying there was no such crisis," Manish Sisodia said.
After the Centre said that there was "no threat of disruption in power supply" and the country had "sufficient coal stock", Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday, 10 October, compared the Centre's current stance to what they had said on oxygen shortage during the COVID-19 second wave earlier this year in April and May.
"When we had an oxygen crisis, they kept saying there was no such crisis," he was quoted as saying by NDTV. "The coal situation is similar. We have a crisis today," he added.
Earlier in the day, Union Minister of Coal Pralhad Joshi had said:
"Assuring everyone that there is absolutely no threat of disruption in power supply. There is sufficient coal stock of 43 million tonnes with Coal India Ltd equivalent to 24 days coal demand," as per ANI. Even Union Power Minister RK Singh had denied reports of coal shortage in power plants across the country, saying they were "created unnecessarily", ANI reported.
'CMs Running Around the Country Warning Centre'
Calling RK Singh's statement "irresponsible", Sisodia said, "Chief Ministers across the country have been warning the Centre about the crisis. In the middle of all this, the Union Power Minister in a press conference today dismissed the apprehension of a crisis, saying that the Chief Minister of Delhi should not have written a letter," he said in reference to the letter Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, in which he had said that 'Delhi could face a power crisis' if the present situation continued 'unabated'.
Several states, including Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi and Tamil Nadu, have raised concerns about the shortage and the blackouts.
Stock Equivalent to 24 days Coal Demand: Coal Minister Prahlad Joshi
Earlier in the day, Union Minister of Coal Pralhad Joshi assured the country that there was "no threat of disruption in power supply" as the country has "sufficient coal stock" and asked the public not to "fall for fear-mongering", ANI reported.
"Assuring everyone that there is absolutely no threat of disruption in power supply," he was quoted as saying by ANI.
"There is sufficient coal stock of 43 million tonnes with Coal India Ltd equivalent to 24 days coal demand," he added.
Joshi said that the thermal power plants "have rolling stock being replenished with daily supply". "With withdrawal of monsoon, coal dispatches are set to rise in coming days, increasing coal stocks. Reiterating, there's sufficient coal stock, don't fall for fear-mongering," he added.
'Unnecessary Panic': Power Minister RK Singh Denies Reports of Coal Shortage
Before Joshi's assurance, Union Power Minister RK Singh had denied reports of coal shortage in power plants across the country, saying they were "created unnecessarily", ANI reported.
"In effect, neither there was, nor there is any crisis. It was created unnecessarily. I've warned Tata Power CEO of action if they send baseless SMSs to customers that can create panic. Messages by GAIL & Tata Power qualify as acts of irresponsible behaviour," he was quoted as saying by ANI after his meeting with the officials of the Power Ministry, BSES, and Tata Power, who had earlier reached his residence for a meeting over coal shortage at power plants.
Explaining the reason behind the panic, he said, "The panic ensued after GAIL informed Bawana gas power plant that it will stop supplying gas after two days because their contract was about to expire," he said.
Ministry of Coal Issues Statement
Later, the Ministry of Coal also said that "any fear of disruption in power supply" was "entirely misplaced", reported ANI.
"Ministry of Coal reassures that ample coal is available in the country to meet the demand of power plants. The coal stock at power plant end is about 72 lakh tonnes, sufficient for 4 days requirement."
Meanwhile, RK Singh said he had asked the GAIL CMD to "continue supplying the required amount of gas to power stations across the country".
"He [GAIL CMD] has assured me that the supplies will continue. Neither there was any shortage of gas in the past, nor will it happen in the future," he added.
He said the average coal reserve (at power stations) could last for more than four days. "The stock is replenished every day. I am in touch with (Union Minister for Coal & Mines) Pralhad Joshi," he added.
Talking about the Congress leaders' comments on the situation, he said, "Unfortunately, the Congress party has run out of ideas. They are running out of votes, and therefore they are running out of ideas as well."
Earlier, amid the possibility of a power blackout in the national capital, Union Power Minister RK Singh had said, "Delhi is being supplied the required amount of electricity, and it will continue."
Power Cuts in Punjab, UP, Rajasthan
Earlier, there were reports of 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 criticism of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government over the coal crisis, PTI had reported.
The crippling coal shortage had also 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.
Rajasthan, too, on Friday, had announced that it would impose scheduled power cuts for one hour every day to deal with the coal crisis.
Delhi CM Kejriwal's Letter to PM Modi
On Saturday, 9 October, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which he also shared on Twitter, in which he 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 an uninterrupted electricity supply to the many "strategic and important installations" in Delhi. He also stressed the need for continuous power supply to essential services like cold chains for vaccination centres and hospitals.
Delhi Power Minister Satyendar Jain, too, had said on Saturday that the national capital could experience a complete blackout after two days if the power plants supplying electricity to the national capital did not receive an immediate coal supply. Jain also said that the government was willing to buy expensive electricity at present to resolve the power crisis in Delhi.
Reasons Behind the Shortage
India is the world's second-largest consumer of coal and is facing 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 the reopening of economies and increased consumption in the aftermath of multiple lockdowns necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI.)
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