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Coal crunch at power plants, govt looks to boost storage, transport capacity

With coal stock depleting to critical levels in a number of thermal power plants, three ministries concerned went into a huddle on Tuesday and chalked out the various measures.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi |
September 22, 2021 2:51:07 am
With monsoon affecting production in several Coal India pits, a number of power plants have stocks that would last them about a week, officials said.

INCREASE THE coal-storing capacity and deploy more wagons and rakes – these are among the long- and short-term measures the government will take to mitigate the critical shortfall of coal stockpile in thermal power plants and to ensure that the capacity to transport and hold coal in the plants increases in future.

With coal stock depleting to critical levels in a number of thermal power plants, three ministries concerned went into a huddle on Tuesday and chalked out the various measures.

With monsoon affecting production in several Coal India pits, a number of power plants have stocks that would last them about a week, officials said. To tide over the situation, the ministers of Coal, Power and Railways decided that in the future, power plants which are a long distance away from sources of coal would work to increase their stocking capacity.

The cumulative coal stock at the thermal power plants is 10 million tonnes right now, which is sufficient for just about six days, as per official data. The coal stock at Coal India Limited is 45 million tonnes, which is sufficient for 25 days. As per official assessment there is no shortage of domestic coal at the moment. So far, the supply by Coal India Limited to the power sector has been 231 MT, which is the highest.

It was discussed in the meeting that with monsoon rains, there is a 17 per cent shortfall in coal loading with respect to target, and a resultant 12 per cent shortfall in power sector. This has not only reflected in coal shortage to power houses but due to reduced loading to non-power sector, industry is in distress, it was discussed, sources said.

The plan now is to project coal demand for power sector for 5 and 10 years and work accordingly. Besides, Railways has also been requested to rationalise the freight rates of coal, which is the highest at the moment.

According to data, coal stock has reached “super critical” level to last less than four days of generation in 47 thermal power plants. In 38 power plants, it has reached “critical” levels where the stacked coal is expected to last less than seven days. There are 10 plants located more than 1,500 km from the source of coal which have now stock worth less than nine days.

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