Coal shortage and power crisis: A move to divert attention from Lakhimpur Kheri?

Sankar CG

Kozhikode: A few days back, Union Minister RK Singh told media that there was severe coal shortage and the nation could soon be on the brink of a power crisis. Later, going back on his words, the same minister says there is no coal shortage or power crisis in the nation.

The reports of the power crisis came when the BJP government was facing huge uproar over the Lakhimpur Kheri incident with the son of a BJP minister caught red-handed over the killing of four farmers during the protest. Following this, diesel price touched Rs 100 mark and people were up in arms against the government. A report of a power crisis came soon. It was termed by many, including a section of engineers working in the government power sector, as a move to divert public attention from national issues that concerned BJP.

“There is no crisis exists actually. The current rumours were ignited by the central government to divert attention from all the ongoing issues as chances are very scanty to have a crisis like this in India,” said a senior engineer.

According to the available data, India holds 107,727 million tonnes of proven coal reserves and is the fifth largest in the world. It means it has coal deposits for111 years at the current consumption levels, excluding unproven reserves. Coal India Limited meets nearly 90 percent of India’s total coal needs . “In India, we import only less than 10 percent of the total coal needs as over 90 percent is locally procured. We have rich coal mines to meet our needs for many more decades. When this is the fact, reports of a coal shortage is no way connected to the reality,” he added.

He also said that power plants usually keep a stock of coal for 22-day production. “However, the post Covid-19 period witnessed an increase in power demand and the existing stock was consumed sooner than expected. The incessant rain has become a barrier in transporting coals to the power plants. Still, it does not pose any threat as we have enough stock to manage production for another five more days.”

Reportedly, Coal India Limited has a stock of over 400 lakhs tonne coal. “The coal available at the power plants is a rolling stock which gets replenished by the supplies from the coal companies on a daily basis. Therefore, any possibility of coal deficits at the power plant end is erroneous. In fact, this year, domestic coal supply has substituted imports by a substantial measure.”

A day is enough to store coal for five-day production and in four days, plants can reach the threshold of 22 days. “Such issues generally happen; as there were days, stock has gone below the level to meet production for three days. In all such instances, concerned officials worked on war-footing to store enough coal and to clear the issue.”

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