AFP / New Delhi
India has ample coal stocks to meet the demand of its power plants, the government said yesterday, seeking to allay fears of imminent blackouts in New Delhi and other cities.
The current fuel stock at coal-powered plants is about 7.2mn tonnes, sufficient for four days, the ministry of coal said.
Government-owned mining giant Coal India also has a stock of more than 40mn tonnes which is being supplied to power stations. “Any fear of disruption in power supply is entirely misplaced,” the ministry said in a statement.
Earlier officials of Delhi’s power ministry, BSES and Tata Power held a meeting with Union Power Minister R K Singh at his residence yesterday on coal shortage issue. The Delhi government did not buy the central government assurances, with the deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia saying that the centre is turning a blind eye to the problem.
After chairing the meeting with with the ministry of power and discoms, Singh said that Delhi is being supplied the required amount of electricity and this arrangement will continue. Denying that there was power crisis, he said”In effect, neither there was, nor there is any crisis. It was created unnecessarily. I’ve warned Tata Power CEO of action if they send baseless SMSs to customers that can create panic. Messages by GAIL and Tata Power qualify as act of irresponsible behaviour”.
The clarification came a day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned of a looming power crisis in the megacity which is home to over 20mn people. Several regions across India have been hit by supply shortages in recent months, with utility providers resorting to unscheduled power cuts.
India’s coal-fired power stations had an average of four days’ stock at the end of September, the lowest in years.
The shortage in India, the world’s second-largest coal-consuming country, follows widespread power outages in China that have shut factories and hit production and global supply chains.
Coal accounts for nearly 70% of India’s electricity generation and around three-quarters of the fossil fuel is mined domestically. As Asia’s third-largest economy rebounds following a coronavirus wave, heavy monsoon rains have flooded coal mines and disrupted transport networks, leading to a sharp rise in prices for coal buyers, including power stations.
International coal prices have also soared. The ministry however sounded upbeat yesterday, saying that despite heavy monsoons and a steep hike in power demand, “domestic supplies have supported power generation in a major way”.
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