Shortage of coal in Maharashtra has led to a shutdown of 13 units at seven thermal plants that supply state-run power utility company Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited, reported The Times of India on Monday.
There is a reported shortage of 3,300 megawatts in the state, according to The Indian Express. On Sunday alone, the power demand in some parts of the state, including Mumbai, was 18,000 megawatts.
Among the power generation units that are not functional are Chandrapur, Nashik, and Bhusawal.
MSEDCL Managing Director Vijay Singhal said that the power crisis is a countrywide problem, but the firm was trying to tackle it without power cuts.
“We have a thermal generation of around 14,000 megawatts and due to the shortfall, we have to purchase electricity from the power exchange at exorbitant costs which is as high as Rs 20 per unit,” Singhal said, according to The Times of India.
Maharashtra’s energy department has started exploring other power sources such as hydroelectricity. The state department has also urged residents to use electricity judiciously between 6 am and 10 am, and 6 pm and 10 pm – which are the peak hours of usage.
State Energy Secretary Dinesh Waghmare told The Indian Express that Maharashtra’s coal reserves will last for one-and-a-half days. “We are repeatedly asking the Centre to give us coal,” he said. “The coal sent to us is not sufficient. At this rate, we will have to do load shedding.”
Coal shortage in states
Coal generates about 70% of India’s electricity. Shortages of it have left multiple states with supply enough to generate power only for a few days. In a normal situation, states have a stock for 15 to 30 days.
Delhi Power Minister Satyendar Jain on Monday said that most of the city’s plants are experiencing a shortage and that stocks are left only for about three days.
“NTPC [National Thermal Power Corporation Limited] capped production capacity of its plants to 55%,” he told ANI. “Earlier we used to get 4,000 megawatts of electricity but now we are not getting even half of that.”
On Saturday, Jain had said there might be a blackout in Delhi in the next two days unless coal supply to power plants increased. The minister said that coal-fired power plants supplying electricity to the Capital need to store at least one month’s stock of coal, but the city’s reserve will last for only for a day.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday said the central government was refusing to recognise the impending power crisis in India. “When we had an oxygen crisis, they [the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre] kept saying there was no such crisis,” he said, according to NDTV. “The coal situation is similar. We have a crisis today.”
However, Sisodia’s comments came on a day Union Power Minister RK Singh claimed that there was no coal shortage and that sufficient power was available in the country. Singh accused Tata Power and Gas Authority of India Limited of causing “unnecessary panic” about power outages. The Union minister said that India had coal reserves for the next four to five days.
But last week, the power minister had himself indicated that coal shortages in India could last six months.
The Union power minister’s claim came even as five states and Delhi announced steps to reduce their power consumption amid a shortage of coal supply in the country and fear of blackouts.
In Tamil Nadu, the power stations had coal stocks that would last about four-and-a-half days and the state’s officials expressed confidence about maintaining this reserve in the upcoming days, reported The Hindu.
The Kerala State Electricity Board said it was keeping an eye on developments related to the coal shortage. An official said that a sharp decline in supplies from the Centre would necessitate stricter steps since there would be a shortage.
In Andhra Pradesh, the overall requirement of coal at the state’s plants every day was 70,000 tonnes, and the existing supply was only 40,000 tonnes, according to The Hindu. Three power units had been closed due to a shortage of coal.
The Karnataka government had also asked for more coal supplies from the central government to tackle the shortage it might face soon.
Meanwhile, with a high demand for coal, Telanagana’s Singareni Collieries Company Limited has planned to increase supplies through 34 railway rakes every day, instead of the current 30, to its contracted buyers, reported The Hindu.