The coal ministry is stepping up efforts to address the coal shortage, as a number of power plants have less than 5 days of stock left.
As of October 3, as many as 97 coal-based power plants had stock for less than 5 days. This, on a day when a peak shortage of 1,886 megawatt (MW) was recorded.
Coal India is the biggest producer of coal in India. During April to September period, production of coal was at 249 million tonnes but the offtake was at 307 million tonnes.
In the past five years, Coal India has increased its production from nearly 500 million tonnes in FY15 to 600 million tonnes last financial year. This year, the demand pattern shows that thermal consumption may exceed 700 million tonnes.
Why there is a coal shortage
Some analysts and power generating companies believe that Coal India’s stockpile started dwindling when the second wave of COVID-19 hit but the impact was seen only in August as demand remained subdued during the second wave.
Unprecedented rains in many coal-bearing areas further hindered production and non-payment of power bills from generation companies and regulation of coal also added further pain.
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The government’s focus to divert coal to power generating companies is hurting the sectors like aluminum, steel, and cement, among others, as they face curtailment.
The power consumption is expected to stay at present levels, which is between 3,600 million units and 4,000 million units per day. As north India is still facing heatwaves, festivities are around the corner and economic revival has led to increase in demand and consumption of electricity; coal, railway and power ministries are paving way to reduce logistical issues to meet the power demand.
Within next 10 days, the coal situation is expected to stabilise.
Watch the accompanying video of CNBC-TV18’s Anshu Sharma for more details.