Parts of the country continue to face acute power outages as the coal crunch in India worsens: POSOCO

Data from Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) shows that close to half of the 135 coal-fired power stations which produce over 70 per cent of the electricity consumed in the country have an average of three days’ fuel stock left. 

The ongoing electricity crisis in India continues to worsen due to the increasing coal shortage in the country. In the first week of October, many regions of Northern India have faced continuous power outages lasting up to 8-12 hours, as per an analysis of publicly available government data. Meanwhile, the Indian government continues to deny claims of coal shortage in the country.

Data from Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) shows that close to half of the 135 coal-fired power stations which produce over 70 per cent of the electricity consumed in the country have an average of three days’ fuel stock left. 

The situation has gradually turned perilous as it was earlier reported that the coal-fire power stations had a fuel stock to last four days at the end of September, declining from 13 days at the start of August. As of October 3, around 132 GW of power generation capacity were unveiled to have fuel stocks at critical levels.

Seeing the sharp decline in the supply of coal to run power stations, owing to rise in prices and surging demand as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union coal ministry had announced on Tuesday that it has revised the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, to allow the open market sale of up to 50 per cent coal obtained from captive mines against additional payment to state governments. 

Following this, Power minister RK Singh had said in a TV interview that “we are in a position to meet whatever demand there is and the coal dispatches have also increased.”

Analysis of daily load dispatch data provided by POSOCO disclosed India’s power supply deficit in the first week of October to be 11.2 per cent of the country’s total shortage this year, Reuters reported. In the list of worst-hit states were Jharkhand which recorded a power deficit of 18-24 per cent and Bihar and Rajasthan, which recorded a power deficit ranging between 6-17 per cent. Meanwhile, residents of Kerala have been requested to reduce their electricity consumption by restricting the use of appliances after dusk, a state electricity board senior official revealed.

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