Smokestacks stand at a coal-fired thermal power station at night in India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Why Delhi Is Staring At A Power Crisis

The Power Ministry said it’s looking to provide more coal to Delhi power plants even as the state government said the fuel at its units may not last more than a day-and-a-half.

“A day before the letter by Delhi Power Minister Satyendra Jain was sent to us, there was a meeting of the sub-group of coal linkage to power plants,” Ajay Kumar Bhalla, secretary at the Ministry of Power, told BloombergQuint over the phone. “More coal is in the pipeline for these plants and more rakes have been unloaded yesterday and a day before.”

Jain wrote to Union Minister for Power RK Singh on June 27 to take up the matter with the Railways for providing wagons on priority to transport coal to these power plants to avoid load shedding or blackouts in Delhi.

The letter sent by Satyendar Jain to RK Singh. (Source: Satyendar Jain’s twitter handle)
The letter sent by Satyendar Jain to RK Singh. (Source: Satyendar Jain’s twitter handle)

Average coal stock at Badarpur power plant in June stands at 22,000 tonnes compared with 59,000 tonnes a year ago, as per data from the Central Electricity Authority. At Dadri, it’s 58,000 tonnes against 2,12,001 tonnes a year ago. Data for the third plant at Jhajjar is not available on the authority website.

The maximum power demand in Delhi touched 6,750 megawatts in June compared with 5,574 MW a year ago and 5,905 MW in 2016.

“During lean months, stocks are built up in power plants,” Bhalla said. “Generation demand for coal was so high this time that large stocks could not be built up. We are still pushing coal to these power plants.”

Jain, in his letter, said all the three plants were facing coal shortage for the last many days “due to non-availability of transportation rakes with Indian railways”.

Why The Coal Crunch

Bhalla said the situation at the plants has been reviewed and the coal secretary will again take stock on Monday with the heads of coal companies. The Delhi power minister’s concerns have been sent to the ministry of coal and railways, he said.

BloombergQuint’s e-mailed queries to the two ministries weren’t immediately answered.

Railways ministry met Coal India Ltd., the largest miner of the fuel, and companies yesterday, a senior railway official told BloombergQuint requesting anonymity. Because of the onset of monsoon, coal companies are not able to transport fuel to the sidings from where it gets loaded onto railway wagons, the official said, adding that loading for the three plants has increased.

But whatever is being supplied to Dadri and Badarpur plants is being used up, the official said. The railways is trying to supply one to two rakes extra for each power house so that stocks are built up in a week, he said.

Overall availability of coal has also become tight, the official said, adding that loading has fallen from 300 rakes a day to 270 rakes due to monsoon. There is also higher demand of coal from other states like Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh due to the paddy season, he said.

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