Amit Shah meets power minister and coal minister
Union home minister Amit Shah on Monday held a meeting with power minister R.K. Singh and coal minister Pralhad Joshi amid reports that the coal shortage in the country was worsening, officials said.
During the hour-long meeting, the three ministers were believed to have discussed the availability of coal to power plants and the current power demands.
Top officials of the power and coal ministries attended the meeting. Shah reviewed the situation and asked everyone present to ensure adequate supplies of coal to thermal power plants .
Officials said the power and coal secretaries will make a presentation on the availability of power and coal at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday. They would also present the steps being taken to boost the availability of coal at the power plant and meet the energy demand during the festive season.
The meeting came in the wake of several states warning of a possible power crisis due to the shortage of coal, officials said.
Latest data of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) showed as many as 70 non-pithead plants having less than four days of stocks (supercritical stock) as of October 10 against 64 a week ago (See chart).
The depleting coal stock has brought out fears of a total blackout that was witnessed in Lebanon and several cities in China. Several states, including Delhi, Punjab, Kerala, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Bihar, have warned of load shedding and called for judicious use of electricity.
Coal India defence
Coal India on Monday said that supply to power utilities has been scaled up to 1.51 million tonnes (mt) per day in the last four days amid concerns over low fuel stock at power plants. The PSU miner said that it has produced 126mt during the July-September quarter, posting a 9.6 per cent year-on-year growth.
During the first 10 days of October, Coal India’s output was 6.5 per cent higher than a year ago. The miner expects production to further increase as attendance at coalfields improves after the festival holidays.
“The aim is to ramp up supplies to the power sector even higher which we hope to achieve post Puja. Once the despatch rate is maintained the stock build up will help tide over the tight situation,” said S.N. Tiwary, director marketing, Coal India.
Railway evacuation has been ramped up and during the first six months of the fiscal, loading to the power sector at 225.3 rakes per day was up 28 per cent compared with 176.3 rakes of last year in the same period.
The miner expects power demand to ease once October and major festivals are over.
“With 40 MT stock at our pitheads and increasing production, availability of coal would not be a problem,” said a senior official of the company.
The sharp rise in fuel demand coupled with imported coal based power plants scaling down their generation due to skyrocketing fuel prices in international markets meant that domestic coal based thermal power plants had to step in to fill in the generation shortfall.
According to Coal India officials, this placed an unfactored load of around 10mt on the miner. Had this not happened the stocks at power plants would have been around 1718 mt instead of the bleak 7mt now.
Coal India Ltd accounts for over 80 per cent of the domestic coal output.