Finance minister categorically denies any power crisis in India
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has categorically denied any power crisis in India — even as grid data showed the situation to be the worst in five years.
Amid reports of the ongoing coal shortage in the country, Sitharaman stressed that there is no shortage and termed these as “absolutely baseless”, saying India is a power surplus country.
“Absolute baseless! There is no shortage of anything.
In fact, if I recall the minister’s (power minister R.K. Singh) statement, every power producing installation has the next four days’ stock absolutely available within their own premises and the supply chain has not broken at all,” Sitharaman said here at Harvard Kennedy School on Tuesday.
However, a Reuters report said India’s power supply fell about 750 million units short of demand during the first 12 days of October, largely due to a coal shortage, a deficit of 1.6 per cent that was the worst since March 2016, data from grid regulator POSOCO (Power System Operation Corporation) showed.
The October shortfall was already the biggest in absolute terms for a single month since November 2018, even with 19 days of October still left.
Northern states such as Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and the eastern states of Jharkhand and Bihar, were the worst affected, registering supply deficits of 2.3 per cent to 14.7 per cent.
Increased economic activity after the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has driven up demand for coal leading to a supply shortage, forcing northern states such as Bihar, Rajasthan and Jharkhand to cut power for up to 14 hours a day.
India has asked power producers to import up to 10 per cent of their coal needs to blend with domestic coal and has warned states of electricity supply curbs if they are found selling on power exchanges to cash in on surging prices. read more
India’s dependence on coal-fired power increased to 69.6 per cent in October from 66.5 per cent in September, the data showed, exacerbating the coal shortage amid a decline in output from other sources such as wind and hydro.
More than 60 per cent of India’s 135 coal-fired power plants have fuel stocks of less than three days. The share of output from renewable energy so far in October fell to 8.34 per cent from 11.33 per cent in September, while hydro energy output fell by 1.3 percentage points, the data showed.
With inputs from Reuters and PTI