Out of the 135 thermal power plants in India, 115 have coal supplies for less than a week, according to an update released by the Central Electricity Authority of India on Monday.
The report showed that 17 plants did not have enough stocks for even one day, and 26 plants have supplies only for one day. Of the total number of plants, 22 have reserves left for two days, 18 for three days, 13 for four days, 11 for five days and eight for six days.
There is a looming power crisis in the country. Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Kerala Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have already flagged possible power outages.
In the last few days, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan have had to impose power cuts.
The Union power ministry has attributed the shortages of coal to an unprecedented demand for electricity and to heavy rainfall in mining areas in September.
But Union Power Secretary Alok Kumar on Monday claimed that the power supply situation was “not very critical”, CNBC-TV18 reported.
“Power shortages have slightly increased in the first week of October,” he told the news channel. “The energy shortages used to be around 0.2% to 0.3% but the energy shortage currently is still less than 1%.”
He added that there were problems in parts of some states, but overall, the situation was under control.
Kumar told CNBC-TV18 that states like Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh had not cleared their dues to coal companies, because of which their supplies have been hit.
“So, I will say these states themselves are responsible for not collecting money from their customers timely and paying to coal companies,” he added.
Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi on Tuesday said the country had coal stock that would last for 22, NDTV reported.
“Yesterday [on Monday] 1.95 million tonnes of coal was supplied [to power plants] which is a record till date,” he said. “We will continue to increase the supply of coal at a fast pace. We are hopeful that after the end of monsoon, the supply of coal will improve rapidly.”
The minister added that the government aimed to supply two million tonnes of coal to power plants by October 21. “We want to assure the whole country that coal will be made available as per the requirement,” he said.
Coal generates about 70% of India’s electricity. Shortages of the fuel have left multiple states with supply enough to generate power only for a few days. In normal situations, states have a stock for 15 to 30 days.
Amid the impending crisis, Prime Minister Narendra’s Modi’s office is expected to review the coal situation in the country on Tuesday, NDTV reported.
On Monday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Power Minister RK Singh and Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi to discuss the availability of the fuel for power plants and the current demand for electricity in the country.