Situation ‘worsened’, Delhi stares at severe power crisis as coal stock thin
Delhi power minister Satyender Jain blamed the coal shortage on the Indian Railways, saying it was not being able to transport coal either due to delays or the lack of wagons.
Three days after he first flagged concerns about a power crisis in the city caused by depleting coal stocks at plants from which Delhi sourced electricity, and two days after Coal India Ltd said the issue could have been avoided had the Delhi government planned better, the state’s power minister Satyendar Jain said the situation has “worsened”.
“These power plants now have coal stocks that can run the plant to its full capacity only for 20-21 hours. Ideally, in a single day, these plants have 56,000 tonnes of coal and the stock lasts about 13-15 days. Now, only about 5% of it is left,” Jain told reporters.
A spokesperson for NTPC Limited, which runs the plants at Dadri and Jhajjar, admitted there was coal shortage, but said some stocks had started coming in. “There is not enough coal to run the plants to their full capacity. But the situation has been improving over the past two days,” said the spokesperson.
Coal India Ltd said in a release on Saturday it had rushed coal to these plants but also said Delhi should have planned better. Power demand in Delhi and most northern states has zoomed in recent days because of heat wave conditions that are expected to last for at least the next few days.
Delhi’s daily allocation from the three coal-based power plants (including the one at Badarpur) is 2,325 MW, but at present, it is getting only 1,355 MW, leading to a daily deficit of about 970 MW, according to government data. As much as 80% of Delhi’s power comes from these and other coal-fired plants.
As per government data, the city is currently using 100% of the power available to it as the peak demand shot to 6,132 MW on Monday, making it the fifth day in May when consumption had crossed the 6,000-MW mark with maximum temperatures hovering at around 45 degrees over the past week. Jain blamed the coal shortage on the Indian Railways, saying it was not being able to transport coal either due to delays or the lack of wagons.
“Last week, I had written to the union minister of railways and coal, Piyush Goyal, seeking his intervention in resolving the issue. But, I haven’t got any response yet,” Jain said. A railway ministry spokesperson, however, denied Jain’s contention. “The Union minister has already issued directives to railway officials to improve the turnaround time of rakes by better scheduling of trains and optimum utilisation of traffic blocks. He has also stressed on reducing terminal detention of wagons inside power plants and coal sidings to generate extra capacity,” the official said, adding that there was no wagon shortage.
Officials from discoms Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited, BSES Rajdhani Power Limited and BSES Yamuna Power Limited said on condition of anonymity the deficit has forced them to buy expensive power through interstate exchanges.
“Due to insufficient power coming from coal-based plants, discoms are procuring power through alternate arrangements such as bi-laterals and exchanges with other states,” said a discom official. “The problem is that this is very expensive, with the cost going up to ₹10 per unit. Also, there is no guarantee on availability of power as demand is rising across North India.”