Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said the Centre ought to take “concrete steps” to overcome the coal crisis which has gripped the entire country with the capital clocking its highest ever power demand for the month of April at 6,197 megawatts (MW) even as the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Limited assured that all its units at Dadri and Unchahar power plants were running at full capacity.
“There is a huge shortage of power in the country. So far we have managed it somehow in Delhi. The situation is very grave in the whole of India. Together we soon need to find its solution. Quick, concrete steps are required to tackle this problem,” Kejriwal tweeted.
Talking to reporters on Friday, Delhi power minister Satyendar Jain that only one day of coal reserve is left in many power plants, although he did not name the stations. “Produced electricity cannot be stored, so in normal circumstances, the coal reserve should be for more than 21 days. Earlier, there were 450 rakes in the trains carrying coal, which have been reduced to 405. The Centre needs to immediately increase the number to deal with the crisis,” he said.
There was no specific response from the Centre on Friday. Union power minister RK Singh met Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Friday, and agreed to examine allocating additional 500 MW of electricty to the state.
Several states have raised an alarm about low coal stocks for power stations over the last week amid rising power demand due to heatwave. Some states have resorted to load shedding as power plants are unable to run at full capacity due to a slow supply of coal primarily because of logistical issues, other than the increase in electricity consumption.
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Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren wrote to the Centre on March 26, seeking outstanding dues of Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries. “If that is not cleared, we will stop supply,” he said.
Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the coal ministry to supply the state with 72,000 MT of coal daily. Haryana has decided to import coal for the first time in a decade. States such as Maharashtra and West Bengal have had to resort to power cuts. Madhya Pradesh has requested additional coal rakes from the Centre.
Union power minister RK Singh on Thursday blamed the states for the electricity outages, saying the problems were not due to a shortage of coal but because of non-payment dues to CIL, delay in lifting coal, and “improper planning”.
Meanwhile, responding to the Delhi government’s claim on Thursday that coal reserves were running out at NTPC’s Dadri-II and Unchahar power plants, the power generator company said on Friday that both the power plants are running at full capacity, and receiving regular supplies.
“Currently Unchahar and Dadri stations are declaring more than 100% rated capacity to the grid. All units of Unchahar and Dadri are running at full load except Unchahar Unit 1, which is under annual planned overhaul,” NTPC said in a statement.
“All six units of Dadri and five units of Unchahar are running at full capacity and receiving regular coal supplies. Present stock is 140000 MT and 95000 MT respectively and import coal supplies are also in pipeline,” NTPC said.
This year, the peak power demand in Delhi is expected to be around 8,200 MW, which will be an increase of around 285% over 2,879 MW in 2002, discom officials said. Delhi has met an all-time high power demand of 7,409 MW recorded on July 2, 2019.