New Delhi: Shortage of
power in states such as Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and
Karnataka Friday threatened to cascade into a pan-India crisis
with coal supplies hit due to varied reasons, including rains and
Many states have been facing three-four hours of power cuts a day
and the situation remained critical despite some steps by the
government to spruce up feedstock supplies and divert coal from
plants which have some stock to others where the levels are
The coal ministry has decided to offer some of the e-auction coal
to the sector during the current month. As per the existing policy
on supply of coal, 10 percent of the total available quantity of
this feedstock is kept for e-auction.
In a statement Friday, the coal ministry said it had increased the
supply of coal rakes to 169 as on Sep 13, of which 148 were
earmarked for the power sector.
"The total dispatches are likely to further increase to around 180
rakes in the next few days, out of which an average of 145 rakes
will be supplied to power sector," said the ministry in a
The main reasons behind the shortage of feedstock are heavy rains
in some coal producing areas, a two-day strike by workers of
state-run Coal India last week and the disruption of mining in
Andhra Pradesh due to an over-month long strike to press for a
separate state of Telengana.
As a result, many of the units of the country's largest power
producing utility, the state-run NTPC, have been left with coal
supplies for no more than two days. Some units were also operating
at sub-optimal levels, power ministry officials said.
Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said coal supplies to the plants
across the country were picking up and the electricity situation
in the country would be back to normal in 4-5 days.
He also said power plants with sufficient coal stocks have been
asked to divert some of their stocks to units with low fuel
"We have instructed all our companies to transfer coal from one to
the other, wherever there is a possibility of still having
two-to-three days of stock. Diwali would be celebrated in good
light," Shinde told reporters here.
In the national capital, one of the two distribution companies
said the situation was set to improve by weekend. "But during the
interim, to the extent of the shortfall, the Delhi discoms will be
constrained to undertake load shedding on a rotational basis."
In West Bengal, though, the situation was caused by Coal India's
subsidiaries halting supplies to state-run utilities due to
default in payment, prompting the state's power minister to assure
people that the situation will improve in three days.
Gujarat, on the other hand, while not facing a power crisis
decided to stop distribution to other states as a precautionary
measure, claiming a 30 percent drop in coal supplies to the state
from the central government-run coal mining entities.
In Andhra Pradesh, the power crisis could ease a bit after the
petroleum ministry allocated 0.63 million standard cubic metres a
day (mmscd) additional natural gas to the independent power
producers. With this, Andhra Pradesh would be able to generate
130 MW of power.