Coal strike may cripple power sector, government looks for way out

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 07, 2015 07:40 IST

India’s power sector could be the worst hit if the nationwide strike called by the country’s coal miners continues for the next few days.

Of the 100 power plants that run on local coal, 42 had supplies for less than seven days as of 1 January, according to the power ministry’s Central Electricity Authority. Twenty of these plants had less than four days of stock.

While the coal employee unions claimed the strike was a success on day one, the government hopes to convince the employees to call it off on Wednesday.

A meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, after unions leaders failed to meet the government representatives on Tuesday.

State-owned Coal India has near monopoly over country’s coal production, accounting for nearly 82% of the domestic output.

Over 3.5 lakh employees proceeded on strike on Tuesday against alleged privatisation and disinvestment in CIL.

The ongoing strike can affect coal production of up to 1.5 million tonnes a day with power plants which are already grappling with fuel shortages.

India’s largest power producer, NTPC that is mainly dependant on coal for producing power refused any official comments. However, NTPC officials admitted that the coal availability situation at power plants can worsen in case the strike continues for the next few days thereby affecting power generation in the country.

BMS, INTUC, AITUC, CITU and HMS—the striking coal unions are opposed to allowing commercial mining of coal, by private companies in the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) bill, 2014, the ordinance for which had to be reintroduced, after opposition parties blocked its tabling in Rajya Sabha.

“It has been an unprecedented nationwide strike, every worker has participated in it,” Gurudas Dasgupta, general secretary of AITUC, told HT.

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