Monsoon, shooting import bills: Big reasons why India is facing coal crisis

The Prime Minister's Office held a meeting on Tuesday where a plan was drawn up to ensure uninterrupted fuel supplies to power plants. Several state governments have flagged concerns over coal supply which they said could lead to ‘critical’ situation.
The Centre has assured that supply of coal will be maintained.
The Centre has assured that supply of coal will be maintained.
Published on Oct 13, 2021 07:27 AM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Amid concerns flagged by various state governments of shortage in supply of coal, which could lead to power crisis, the central government has stepped in. On Tuesday, PK Mishra, principal secretary to the Prime Minister, held a meeting with coal secretary Anil Kumar Jain, power secretary Alok Kumar, and railway board chairman Suneet Sharma to discuss the issue.

The plan focuses on ensuring uninterrupted fuel supplies to power plants. The state-run Coal India Ltd (CIL) has been asked to supply an additional 200,000 tonne of coal on a daily basis to ramp up the fossil fuel supplies to 2.1 million tonne per day.

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The meeting comes a day after Union home minister held a similar exercise with coal and power ministers and asked them to maintain the supply of coal to thermal power plants.

Delhi, Punjab and Chhattisgarh are among the states which have repeatedly warned of a "critical" situation, urging the Centre to fulfill the coal requirements of power plants to avoid any disruption in service.

So, what are the reasons for the current crisis? Why is India facing supply shortage? News agency ANI quoted people aware of the developments to report that there are multiple reasons for the current scenario.

• First reason, according to people quoted above, is that state governments have not paid heed to coal ministry's notes (since January) to pick up and stock coal.

• Rajasthan, West Bengal and Jharkhand have their own mines but they did little to extract coal, they further said. It is learnt that despite clearances, some of the state governments sat on decision and gave Covid and rains as reasons for not doing enough mining, said the people quoted above.

Also Read | As concerns rise over coal shortage, Centre reassures with ‘fact-check’

• Heavy rainfall, especially in the coal-producing regions of Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal in September, added to the problem.

• The shooting prices of imported coal also contributed to the current situation. There is a 12 per cent fall in imports of foreign coal which power companies blend to cut losses. Due to high prices, they also shifted to domestic coal.

• There is also the issue of pending dues - some state governments have defaulted on payments to Coal India, said the people aware of developments.

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Monday, October 18, 2021