Updated: October 12, 2021 7:37:47 am
High overdue payments to coal companies by certain states have contributed to the low levels of coal stocks at thermal power plants, as per government officials. The Power Ministry has written to four states — Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan — asking them to clear dues to coal companies.
The outstanding dues of the Maharashtra state utility to Coal India were Rs 3,176.1 crore at the end of FY21, while the dues of Uttar Pradesh utility were Rs 2743.1 crore. Dues of the Tamil Nadu state utility were Rs 1,281.7 crore, and that of the Rajasthan state utility were Rs 774 crore.
These states have among the highest thermal capacities that have either zero days of stock or just one day of stock as on October 10. Outstanding dues of state electricity boards and power generation companies to Coal India Ltd, which accounts for about 80 per cent of India’s coal output, were Rs 21,619.7 crore at the end of FY21. “The Power Ministry has written to these states (about high dues to coal companies). While this is not the only reason behind the coal situation, this is a contributing factor,” said a government official who did not wish to be quoted.
On October 10, Uttar Pradesh had 2,000 MW of capacity that had zero days of coal stock, Maharashtra had 1,920 MW of capacity with zero stock. Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan had 1,500 MW and 500 MW of capacity with zero days of stock, respectively.
Thermal power plants across the nation are currently facing a shortage of coal due to a sharp uptick in power demand, restricted supplies due to heavy rainfall in September, low accumulation of stock in April-June, and a huge spike in the price of imported coal. India’s coal fired power plants currently have about 4 days of coal inventory as against the recommended level of 15-30 days based on distance of the plant from the source of coal.
A total of 17 power plants with a capacity of 16,430 MW had zero days of coal stock on October 10, while a further 48 plants with 62,255 MW capacity had one or two days of coal stock remaining. of the 135 thermal power plants monitored daily, 115 had coal stocks of under 7 days.
Coal-fired thermal power plants account for 208.8 GW (54 per cent) of India’s 388 GW installed generation capacity. The share of coal-based power in India’s power mix has risen to 66.4 per cent from 61.9 per cent in 2019. States like Delhi and Punjab have written to the Centre asking that coal shipments to their thermal power plants be expedited for fear of power cuts.
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