Amid power cuts due to the low availability of coal and high demand, the central government has invoked an emergency law to start electricity generation at some idle power plants that are running on imported coal, according to a report. These idle plants are not producing electricity due to financial stress or high international prices of coal.
The government said officials of the power ministry will work with those involved in the debt restructuring of financially stressed idle plants, to make them functional. A government committee will facilitate passing on higher costs of generation to customers, according to the Reuters report.
India is facing its worst power crisis in over six years. Over 43 per cent of the plants fired by imported coal, which have a total capacity of 17.6 gigawatts and account for 8.6 per cent of India’s total coal power capacity, are currently idle, the report said.
Union Power Minister R K Singh has also reviewed the status of the coal import for blending in the thermal power plants with the states. Power Secretary Alok Kumar, senior officials of the state governments and electricity generation companies (gencos) were present in the meeting held virtually on Thursday, the power ministry said in a statement on Friday.
“The minister highlighted the importance of importing coal for blending in the thermal power plants, in view of the constraints in domestic coal supply to meet the increased demand. The states were advised to place orders for the import of coal for blending purpose so that the additional coal reaches power plants from the month of May 2022 itself,” it added.
The minister stated that the domestic coal would be supplied to all gencos in proportion to the coal received from coal companies. He further advised the states to increase the output from the captive mines to meet their coal requirements, which will help in reducing the burden on the linkage coal.
“He emphasised that states need to take actions to ensure coal supply to their power plants by ensuring off-take in the rail-cum-road (RCR) mode to meet the shortfall in coal requirement at their power plants and stated that in the event of states not lifting the RCR coal it would be de-allocated and offered to other states and the concerned states would be responsible for any shortages and consequent power-shortages in their states,” it added.
Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have placed orders for the import of coal, while Punjab and Gujarat are in the advanced stage of finalisation of the tenders; and the other states need to put extra efforts to import the coal for blending at their power plants in time, the statement said.
“The states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh are in the process of issuing the tenders. Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand have not yet issued tender or taken any significant actions for the import of coal and were advised to take necessary actions to ensure coal supply to their power plants,” it added.
With inputs from News18