“The worst is over as stocks are rising for the last four days. With enhanced supply, the situation is expected to be normal in a month or so,” a government source said.
The statement from the Centre came on a day with coal and power secretaries made a presentation before the prime minister’s office detailing the steps that are being taken, while assuring that there will be no blackout. Simultaneously, the states have been asked to ensure that there is no profiteering on their part and they do not sell electricity on exchanges to earn a premium, while resorting to power cuts.
While several states have cautioned on possible outages, government sources said that Coal India has stepped up supply from under 1.6 million tonnes until a few days ago to over 1.9 million tonnes now with 2 million tonnes to be dispatched from its mines on a daily basis from next week. “We are geared up for more supply and transportation has also been tied up with the railways,” a source said. Railways will provide 350 rakes, including an additional 50 to transport higher quantities of coal.
The power ministry also rubbished claims by Delhi that it was facing a crisis and released data to argue that the Capital’s entire demand had been met over the last two weeks and instructed state-run NTPC and DVC to meet the entire demand from the city.
The Centre said that Coal India is ready to meet the additional demand from coastal power plants, which are shunning imported coal as global prices have soared over three times in recent months. Coal imports have dropped by around 12%, resulting in lower generation by units dependent on overseas supplies. Some of this demand has also moved to the domestic market, and states such as Jharkhand, which is yet to clear production from a large mine, are being asked to approve them.
Government sources said that states had been advised for months to pick up coal from the mines but several of them did not heed to the suggestion, resulting in Coal India paring production amid mounting stocks. They said that in April stocks had reached 100 million tonnes, a third higher than last year when it was estimated at 75 million tonnes. Besides, the states are being urged to clear dues of nearly Rs 19,000 crore to Coal India, with Maharashtra (Rs 2,600 crore), Tamil Nadu (Rs 1,100 crore), Madhya Pradesh (Rs 1,000 crore) and UP being on the list with large arrears.