The sudden spurt in demand for thermal power from Tamil Nadu has put the Ministry of Coal and Coal India Ltd’s subsidiaries in a crisis management mode.

According to data shared by the Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation Ltd, 810 MW of generation capacity at the North Chennai Thermal Power Station, 630 MW at the Tuticorin Thermal Power Station and another 630 MW at the Mettur Thermal Power Station have been put on standby and have not been in service due to inadequate coal stock.

The fall in coal availability is primarily due to a sudden spurt in power demand coupled with a shortfall of supply from nuclear and hydropower sources. A Coal Ministry official told BusinessLine that the government and Coal India Ltd (CIL) have devised an action plan to meet this demand.

He said: “The plan did not exist earlier. We had discussions with Tamil Nadu very recently to meet their demand. There has also been substantial import substitution now. Now, TANGEDCO’s coal materialisation is about 75-77 per cent.”

“We have also decided to supply additional coal rakes specific to those plants that are known to require more coal. These are the Mettur Thermal Power Plant in Salem and the NTPL Thermal Power Plant in Tuticorin,” he added.

More rakes

In another significant move, the government has added rakes for plants that have critical stocks of coal. The official said: “In light of the shortfall, we have decided to augment coal supply to NTPL Tuticorin by supplying two rakes per day for the plant. Last week it was not under critical category, now this week it is in the critical category and we have decided to increase the supply. This should take care of the demand.”

Coal supplies to Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) come from Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) and Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL).

Coal quantity supplied this year is up by nearly 20 per cent compared with last year.

There was an increase of 23 per cent in September and another 17-18 per cent in October till now.

The official said that Coal India's production was adversely hit during the monsoons, adding that with the weather improving, the supply chains would soon resume normalcy and the demand would be met.