Power crisis looms large over the country with over 60 per cent thermal power stations grappling with critical coal shortage. Officials said that fuel stockpiles at all the thermal power stations hit a new low in 25 years at 7.2 million tonnes, as Coal India and its subsidiaries failed to meet their production targets.
According to the latest data released by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), total fuel stocks at 103 coal-based stations have come down to 7.2 million tonnes.
This comprises 6.58 million tonnes of indigenous coal and 706 tonnes of imported fuel. Of the 61 plants with less than seven days of fuel stocks left, 36 stations are reeling under acute shortage with less than four days of stockpiles at their disposal.
Officials claimed that even NTPC, the country's largest thermal power producer is battling with 0-1 day of stocks at some of its plants.
"This is the lowest in 25 years. The last time it hit a low was in 2010 when it was 7.8 million tonnes," an official in the Ministry of Power said. Officials said that Coal India's production is not meeting the demand of the power sector and its subsidiaries Northern Coalfields Ltd (NCL) and Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL) are not producing coal as per their respective targets.
The company's generating with nil stocks include Indira Gandhi thermal plant in Haryana, Rihand, Singrauli and Tanda in Uttar Pradesh and Vindhayachal in Madhya Pradesh, Tamnar and Bardhara in Chhattisgarh, Parli, Bela and Butibori in Maharashtra, Barauni in Bihar, Chandrapura in Jharkhand, Derang in Orissa and Durgapur in West Bengal.
According to the official, NTPC is generating lesser than full capacity at some of these power plants.
Asked when the situation will improve, the official said that it could be in a couple of weeks because of improvement in weather.
The power demand will come down as winters are approaching and this will reduce the impact of low stocks.
He added that the real solution lay with Coal India which will have to meet its production targets and increase its capacity.
CEA, the techno-economic clearance body under the Ministry of Power, is also engaged in setting generation targets and other milestones for the power utilities.
India is already the world's third-largest coal importer despite sitting on the fifth largest reserves, mainly due to delays in securing environmental clearances to add new mines and to build facilities to transport coal from remote mines.
Source- India Today