Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday met Power Minister R K Singh and Coal Minister Prahlad Joshi amid reports of coal shortage in India.
While there is fear of a coal shortage and power outage, the two ministers met Shah along with officials from both ministries, and officials of the National Thermal Power Corporation in a meeting that lasted for about one hour.
According to sources, Amit Shah reviewed the availability of coal and was also briefed about the status of mining in the country. Union Power Minister RK Singh had categorically dismissed any rumors of any shortage in the country on Sunday, even as several states including Delhi, raised concerns over a crisis leading to a power shortage.
Singh had stated that there is no power crisis in the country due to shortage at the power plants and said that a panic situation is being “unnecessarily created”. India is the world’s second-largest coal-consuming country and it accounts for nearly 70 percent of India’s electricity generation. Around three-quarters of the fossil fuel is mined domestically.
However, States including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi, and Tamil Nadu, have raised concerns over coal shortage leading to power outage. Frequent power cuts are also being experienced in several states.
The problem has been flagged to the center by Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Fearing a potential power crisis, the chief ministers of Karnataka and Punjab have asked the Centre to increase supply to their states. Maharashtra’s energy department has advised citizens to save electricity while the Kerala government warned that they may have to resort to load-shedding. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene so that coal and gas can be diverted to plants that supply electricity.
The Union Ministry of Coal meanwhile had said on Sunday that ample fuel is available in the country to meet the demand of power plants and any fear of disruption in the power supply is entirely ‘’misplaced’’. “Availability is sufficient to meet power plants demands. Any fear of disruption in the power supply is entirely misplaced. The stock at the power plants end is about 72 lakh tonnes, sufficient for four days requirement, and that the Coal India Limited (CIL) end is more than 400 lakh tonnes, which is being supplied to the power plants,” said the Ministry.
The domestic coal-based power generation has grown by nearly 24 percent in this year (till September 2021) based on a sturdy supply from the companies, it said, adding, the daily average requirement at the power plants is about 18.5 lakh tonnes per day whereas the daily supply has been around 17.5 lakh tonnes per day. “The coal available at the power plants is a rolling stock which gets replenished by the supplies from the coal companies on a daily basis. Therefore, any fear of stocks depleting at the power plant end is erroneous. In fact this year, domestic supply has substituted imports by a substantial measure,” an official release said.
The Ministry said due to extended monsoons the dispatches were “constrained”. “Despite heavy rains in the coalfield areas, CIL (Coal India Limited) had supplied more than 255 MT coal to the power sector in this year which is the highest ever H-1 supply from CIL to the power sector. Out of the total supply from all sources, the present coal supply from CIL to the power sector is more than 14 lakh tonnes per day and with the receding rains, this supply has already increased to 15 lakh tonnes and is set to increase to more than 16 lakh tonnes per day by the end of October 2021,” the release said.
The supply from SCCL (Singareni Collieries Company Limited) and captive coal blocks shall contribute to another three lakh plus tonnes of coal every day, it added.
On Sunday, Union Power Minister R K Singh assured that its supply will be maintained going forward.