Updated: October 12, 2021 11:01:21 am
With coal shortage hitting production, Punjab on Monday witnessed power cuts for around 5 to 7 hours in most parts of the state. Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, meanwhile, said his government will not let a power blackout take place in the state and he has asked the Centre to ensure adequate supply of coal.
Power cuts were faced by people across major cities of the state — Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Muktsar, Sangrur and Patiala among others. PSPCL sources said that cuts were imposed in the entire state.
Farmers complained that they were getting 8-hour power supply on alternate days for their fields instead of daily. They even staged a dharna outside the head office of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) demanding regular power supply for paddy crop which is near ripening. Industry in mixed land use areas was also witnessing power cuts, while in designated industrial areas, the situation was better.
Channi said: “Not only Punjab, the entire country is facing the power crisis because of coal shortage.”
He added that he had spoken to the Union Coal Minister and even had written a letter in this regard. He has also asked the Centre to ensure adequate supply of coal to Punjab at the earliest. To a question on fears of a power blackout, Channi said his government will not let it happen in the state.
Badish Jindal, president of federation of small industries association, Punjab, said, “Even on Saturday, we faced 5-hour unscheduled power cut. How is Punjab’s industry going to survive when we continue to face such hassles every now and then? At the same time, the statements of Union Minister of Coal R P Singh and Chairman PSPCL Venu Prasad are contradictory. The coal ministry is claiming the availability of 400 lakh tonnes of coal which is sufficient for 20 days and is assuring continued supply of coal to 135 thermal plants of India, whereas the chief of PSPCL is claiming huge scarcity of coal and is imposing huge unscheduled power cuts in the state.”
“In India, around 70 per cent power is generated by the thermals and these thermal units consume 350 million tonnes of imported and 700 million tonnes of domestic coal every year. The other reason behind these cuts is increase in prices of imported coal so the thermal plants are more dependent on domestic coal as due to long term contracts the domestic coal companies are forced to supply coal to thermals at long term contract prices. But among 135 thermals, 70 thermal plants are in trouble as they failed to keep the sufficient stock of coal with them,” he added.
While thermal plants should have a stock of 30 days, the ones in Punjab are getting day-to-day supplies.
Total demand for power is nearly 9000 MW in the state and out of this, nearly 5700 MW comes from thermals.
As of now, Punjab is running thermals on rotation basis because of limited stock of coal.
“We faced power cuts from midnight and if we count the hours from midnight till 5 pm on Monday evening, we have faced power cuts of nearly 7-8 hours,” said Navdeep Dhaliwal, a Mansa resident.
Manjit Singh, president of BKU (Ugrahan)’s Patiala unit, said, “We staged a dharna outside the head office of PSPCL in Patiala as we are hardly getting any power supply while paddy and basmati still needs irrigation in October. Now after our protest, management had a meeting with us in which they agreed to supply 6 hours daily power supply to the agriculture sector.”
When The Indian Express contacted A Venuprasad, CMD, PSPCL, he said, ‘’Power cuts are due to coal shortage. We have no plans to impose power cuts, but they are being imposed only if the need arises. Our thermals are facing an acute coal shortage.”
However CMD refused to reply that why no thermal plant of Punjab — private as well as PSPCL-owned – was without coal stock of 30 days.
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