Coal shortage: Rajpura power plant stares at shutdown
L&T has already shut 700 MW unit, coal left for just one day for the other; state may face shortage of 1,400 MW power during paddy seasonpunjab Updated: Jun 06, 2018 11:53 IST
With the paddy season round the corner when the demand for electricity soars, a power crisis is looming in Punjab as the Rajpura thermal plant is likely to suspend operations of its 700 megawatt unit due to coal shortage after having shut the other unit of same capacity.
The 1,400 MW plant having two units is run by Nabha Power Ltd (NPL), a subsidiary of Larsen and Toubro (L&T). If the plant does not get the required coal supply in time, the second unit will be shut in the next two days, which may aggravate the problem of power outages across the state.
During the paddy season, when the state is likely to face shortage of 1,400 MW power, as extra electricity is needed to run agriculture tubewells as paddy is a water-intensive crop.
Not only the L&T-run plant, the coal stock at Vedanta Group-run 1,980 MW plant at Talwandi Sabo has also reached critical level, as the unit may not continue operations beyond four days if it does not get fresh supply of fuel.
This is for the second time in the last 60 days that the L&T plant has been shut due to coal shortage. Earlier in April, the plant was forced to shut a unit for 10 days.
Last year, Nabha Power Limited was forced to shut down one of the units for 54 days between September and November.
“We have sent so many SOSes to the ministry of coal in this regard. Even the Punjab government pursued the matter, but to no avail. Against a daily requirement of four rakes of domestic coal, we are receiving not more than two rakes,” said Athar Shahab, chief executive officer (CEO) of Nabha Power Limited.
He said the Centre gives preferential treatment to state-owned units when it comes to coal supply, even as they are supplying the total electricity generated at the plant to Punjab.
“The shutdown of our unit is not only hitting us financially, but also affecting the consumers. Whenever our unit goes out of operation, the state is forced to purchase costlier power from the market. We urge chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh to take up matter with the Prime Minister,” Shahab said.
“Coal India Limited should allow us to utilise the coal meant for the Bathinda thermal plant to resolve our problem,” he said. The state has already closed the Bathinda thermal plant and two units of the Ropar thermal plant of a total of 900 MW capacity.