20 thermal power stations shut, Centre says no coal scarcity: 10 points
The Centre has assured that there are sufficient coal reserves in the country to produce electricity, but that hasn't stopped state governments to flag concerns about shutting down of thermal power stations due to scarcity of coal. According to Hindustan Times' sister publication Livehindustan, three thermal power plants in Punjab, four in Kerala and 13 in Maharashtra have been shut.
The chief ministers of Karnataka and Punjab have urged the Centre to increase coal supply.
The Congress has blamed the central government for the coal shortage in the country and expressed fear that power rates may be increased now after the hike in petrol prices.
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Here are the key developments in this big story:
1. The Union power ministry said in a statement on Sunday that fears of a power crisis in India are overblown. The ministry of coal said "ample coal is available in the country to meet the demand".
2. Union power minister RK Singh reviewed the coal stock position at all thermal power plants on Sunday. Reports earlier said that over half of 135 coal-fired utilities, which supply more than half of India's electricity, have fuel inventory to last just under three days.
3. The Centre's rebuttal came after concerns were raised by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said Delhi could face power outages if the central government did not quickly resolve the coal shortage at power plants. He sought the intervention of the Prime Minister to resolve the crisis.
4. After the Union power ministry's statement, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said that the Centre was not ready to accept there was a coal crisis. Its policy to “turn a blind eye” to every problem could prove to be bad for the country, he added.
5. Former Union minister and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh demanded an investigation into the coal shortage.
6. Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh energy minister Pradhuman Singh Tomar on Sunday claimed that the state stood at a better position. The minister also said that the state government has floated tenders to purchase eight metric tonnes of coal for its power stations.
7. In Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal slammed the Congress-led government, alleging that the current crisis was entirely “man-made” and a direct consequence of the ruling dispensation’s “utter neglect and absence of advance planning and preparedness”.
8. Power supply situation continued to remain grim in Punjab with the state-owned utility PSPCL on Sunday saying up to three-hour daily power cut will remain in the state till October 13.
9. In a year when the country produced record coal, excessive rains in coal producing belt hit movement of the fuel from mines to power generation units, impacting power generation in many states including Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh.
10. Another factor that has contributed to the present crisis is power plants that used imported coal to generate electricity, have either curtailed generation or completely stopped as a spurt in international energy prices has made it difficult for them to meet the commitments to states at a particular rate.