The Ministry of Power is facing difficulty in supplying coal to the power plants, located far from the mines, as Coal India Limited (CIL) hasn’t prepared a list of such plants in the past six months.
The CIL was asked to submit this list to Ministry of Power and Ministry of Coal at a meeting chaired by power minister R K Singh on January 25. As per the information obtained by The Indian Express, this list was not submitted by CIL to either of the ministries till July-end.
A CIL official told The Indian Express on July 31 that the “final list is yet to be prepared” and the work is in progress as the information is being gathered from all its subsidiary companies. He added that since the list would be based upon the inputs to be received from subsidiary coal companies, its date of submission — to Ministry of Power and Ministry of Coal — has not been decided.
On August 1, a power ministry official told The Indian Express on the condition of anonymity that the ministry is facing difficulty in planning coal supply for power plants, which are located far from coal mines, as this list yet to be submitted by the CIL.
Over the past 11 months, a number of thermal power plants across the country are running at sub-optimum levels of fuel stock due to inadequate supply. On January 25, 2018, Singh had a meeting with various stakeholders – including the CIL – to review the coal supply situation. One of the decisions taken at this meeting was: “CIL shall provide a list of power plants with distance less than 20 kms/ 40 kms/ 100 kms from pithead”.
The Indian Express had reported on June 3 that the total number of plants running with critical (less than 5-7 days) and supercritical (less than 3-4 days) stocks have significantly increased in the January-May period of 2018, against the year-ago period. It was found that in January-May period of 2018, the plants in the Western region have been the worst hit, with their contribution to the All-India number – of plants with critical or supercritical stocks — hovering around 50 per cent, followed by the Northern region.
On May 18, 2018, Railway Board wrote to all its zones that “in view of the critical coal stocks with power plants, Ministry of Power has requested for granting of higher priority in loading of coal for power houses from goods sheds so as to facilitate higher supply of coal to power sector”. Railway Board stated that this higher priority of coal supply should be accorded till June 30. However, this decision to divert coal supply to independent power producers was strongly opposed by Indian Captive Power Producers Association (ICPPA).
On May 29, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to direct the Railways to provide rakes for transporting coal to plants in Delhi-NCR, which are facing “alarming level” of coal shortage.
At the conference of states’ power ministers in Shimla on July 3, Singh stated that the coal shortage situation in various power plants will persist for 2-3 years and states have been allowed to import coal. “There is an acute shortage of coal and this is evident because the demand for power is growing. We have written to states allowing them to import coal as per their requirements. Coal will continue to be a problem for 2-3 years till new mines are opened,” Singh stated.
At this conference, Delhi power minister Satyendra Jain stated that Delhi’s Badarpur, Dadri and Jhajjar power plants are still facing coal shortage. Jain added that unless coal supplies are improved, “blackouts will continue in Delhi”.