CIL ups supplies, but power situation still critical

Shobha Roy/Richa Mishra Kolkata/New Delhi | Updated on October 08, 2021

In addition, the government has also made provisions for grant of mining lease to a government company or corporation for coal or lignite for 50 years.   -  REUTERS

Evacuation distress continues unabated

The threat of power outages in some parts of the country due to depleting fuel stocks at thermal power plants still looms though Coal India Ltd (CIL) is looking to ramp up daily supplies to 1.55 million tonnes (mt) over the next few days.

Power Secretary Alok Kumar told BusinessLine: “I would say the situation is still critical in some States. But we are constantly taking stock and simultaneously taking corrective action. The current crisis seems to have emerged to a significant extent due to States — Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu — that had huge outstanding dues for coal supplied. This had led to reduced supplies to plants in these States. Rajasthan has cleared its dues and supply of coal has been stepped up to the State.”

Another reason for the power situation is the short generation by plants dependent on imported coal that became expensive as global demand surged. These plants also turned to domestic coal supply sources, compounding the situation.

Kumar has called a meeting with Gujarat and Maharasthra which have plants using imported coal. Besides default, to blame also is some plants not maintaining stocks.


Evacuation hampered

“Tight situation is also due to hampered coal evacuation as monsoon got extended. Not that the weather is clear, but now despatch has increased. There is plenty of coal in CIL mines and their production traditionally ramps up post monsoon. It is only evacuation distress now,” a senior Coal Ministry official said.

In fact, the Power Ministry is working on coal stocking norms. “These norms, which would be especially beneficial during the lean season, should be out in 10 days,” he said.

Power Minister RK Singh has been reviewing the coal position of power plants. Secretaries and senior officers of the Ministries of Power, Coal, and Railways, as also coal companies, power utilities and the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) are involved in the exercise.

CIL, which had increased supplies to the power sector to 1.42 million tonnes a day over the last three days from the average of 1.2-1.3 mt in August, plans to ramp it up to 1.6 mt/day by the end of October. “Owing to the extended monsoon, mines of ECL and BCCL to a large extent and some of CCL have been inundated. Relentless de-watering efforts are on and once the situation improves, the supplies would go up even higher before the festival season,” a company spokesperson told BusinessLine.

Low stocks

Coal stocks at some 106 thermal plants are at critical/super critical levels (less than six days’ stocks) as on October 5 as against only 16 in a similar situation a year ago. The average stock of coal at power plants was about four days as on October 5 compared with 19 days last year.

The CEA website shows that of the 135 power stations, 17 plants with a total capacity of 18,920 MW have zero day coal stocks; 27 ( 33,775 MW) have one day stock; 19 (24,750 MW) have two days’ stock and another 14 (20,760 MW) have three days’ stock.

Power plants had comfortable stocks of 28.7 mt at the beginning of this fiscal and even at the end of July they had close to 24 mt, which was at par with the stock position the previous five years as on that date, sources said.

Published on October 07, 2021

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