Despair in India Power Plants: Gov directs miners to deliver emergency coal supplies

Coal Power
Coal Power

Coal India Limited (CIL) and Singareni Collieries Company Limited, the two government-owned and -managed coal miners, were directed on September 7 to rush coal feedstock to thermal power stations from pithead stocks using all available logistical and transportation facilities to avoid a looming power crisis, an official in the Coal Ministry said.

The federal government’s policy and advisory body, the Central Electricity Authority, reported that, from the start of September, 29 of the 100 thermal power plants in the country had reported coal stocks below ‘super critical levels’ or stocks less than four days. As many as 56 plants had coal stocks of less than seven days which was considered ‘critical level.’

CIL, which has about 30-million tonnes of coal lying at pitheads and railway stockyards, has been asked to rush stocks to these thermal power plants on an emergency basis, and take up freight requirements with the government-run Indian Railways, the official added.

For its part, the miner had asked power companies to arrange for trucks so that coal could be transported from mines in remote areas lacking adequate railway infrastructure.

According to Power Ministry estimates, northern India alone was facing a power deficit of around 5 000 MW owing to coal shortage and a sharp fall in the plant load factor of power plants supplying the region. In the western region grid, power generation shortfall as a result of coal shortage was estimated at 3 143 MW.

Besides banking on pithead stocks, the government did not have any other short- or medium-term plan to tide over coal shortage and resultant power crisis across the country. On Sunday, Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal acknowledged that it would take years to alleviate coal supply shortages, which had reduced stocks with thermal power plant to their lowest level since 2012, when about 620-million people across northern India was plunged into darkness.

The government blamed cost and time overruns in implementing coal mining projects and the estimated $50-billion losses incurred by electricity distributing companies as the major causes for the electricity crisis.(Source: Miningweekly)

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