India’s coal shortage crisis has become more acute with more thermal power plants running out of the fuel.
The number of non-pit head plants with less than four days of dry fuel stock increased to 70 on Sunday, compared with 64 a week ago, the Press Trust of India reported.
According to the Central Electrical Authority, of the 135 plants with an installed capacity of more than 165GW, as many as 70 have been categorized as super-critical, or having less than four days of fuel left on October 10 as against 64 on October 3. The number of plants having less than seven days of fuel stock also increased to 26 on Sunday, from 25 on October 3.
As of Sunday, 26 power plants with 34,930MW of capacity had fuel for one day, compared with 20 plants with 22,550MW a week ago.
India’s Home Minister Amit Shah has held a meeting with Power Minister R K Singh and Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi. Top officials of the power and coal ministries attended the meeting.
As contingency measures, many state governments have started power rationing, while others have issued instructions to customers not to waste electricity.
Thirteen thermal energy plants in Maharashtra, four in Kerala and three in Punjab state have been shut down due to coal shortages. Many of the states have asked the prime minister to look into the issue.
Heavy rains in coal mine areas during September have adversely affected coal production as well as the despatch of coal to power plants. Coal India caters to 80% of the country’s demand, while the rest is met through imports from Indonesia, Australia and South Africa.
The Indian government is reluctant to increase imports as global coal prices have jumped 100% in recent times due to a steep rise in demand.
On the other hand, with the economy recovering after Covid-19 lockdowns and other curbs on economic activity, a sharp surge in energy demand has triggered an unprecedented fuel shortage at the country’s coal-fired stations.