The big focus remains on the ongoing coal shortage across several power plants in the country that forced some states to impose load shedding. After union home minister Amit Shah reviewed the situation yesterday, today Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stock of the supply crunch. The meeting was attended by union power minister RK Singh and union coal minister Pralhad Joshi.
Speaking at a separate event launching the auction process for commercial coal blocks, Joshi said power plants have 22 days of coal stocks available. CNBC-TV18’s Anshu Sharma spoke to the coal minister at the sidelines of an event and he claimed that coal demand will be met in the coming days.
To discuss the coal crunch, CNBC-TV18 spoke to B. Ashok, chairman and managing director of the Kerala State Electricity Board and Alok Sinha, additional chief secretary and chairman of additional sources of Energy, Uttar Pradesh.
On power shortage, Sinha said, "The situation between October 3, till October 9, we had a gap of about 3,000 to 4,000 megawatt every day. But from October 10 onwards, we had sufficient coal and we have been able to maintain our schedule. In fact, we have been supplying more electricity then what was scheduled to make up for the last few days when we were not able to supply. The gap has now come down to about 300-400 megawatt which we are making up through buying the energy from exchanges. So right now, we don't have any shortage."
He added, "As far as coal supply is concerned, we had problems of coal supply. But after the group has been formed at the Centre, we are getting regular coal supplies and gradually, the amount of coal which is there with the power plant will also increase. Right now we have a few power plants where our reserve is about five days, but gradually it is building up. I think in a few days, we will be back to the comfortable level. From October 10the onwards, we are not resorting to any power cuts."
On power from exchanges, Sinha said, "Yesterday we bought about 8 million units at a cost average cost of Rs 14 per unit."
On the power situation in Kerala, Ashok said, "As long as our generators are concerned, only three are showing any short-term lack of lower supply of coal. So out of 27, only three stations are reporting any kind of coal issue and that is impacting us only to about 140 megawatts, which we are managing with our own automatic demand management system."
"But two of our long-term agreements, private producers, they are suffering machine outages. So that is another 140 so our suffering was maximum by about 350 megawatts which we are managing without any power cut at the moment. So long as this is not a structural issue and the coal supply has improved as per the inputs from the central government, we don't see any power cuts or load shedding. Plus, we anticipate a reduction in the loads as rains in Kerala and the onset of winter in the north of India. So we don't anticipate unless there are unforeseen technical glitches or structural issues in the whole supply which the minister has ruled out. We don't anticipate a severe problem, we see the problem easing over the week."
For the full interview, watch the accompanying video...