‘No coal shortage’: Centre clarifies amidst power crisis in AP

Hyderabad: Two days after Andhra Pradesh (AP) chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding more coal amidst a impending power crisis, the Union Ministry of Coal on Sunday clarified that there are sufficient stocks.

Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy on October 8 wrote to Modi requesting “urgent intervention” due to an emerging power crisis issues in Andhra Pradesh (AP). Stating that the demand for electricity has gone up post the COVID-19 pandemic, Jagan said that there is a major coal shortage due to which stocks can last only a day or two.

The ministry of coal on Sunday in a statement said that coal availability is sufficient, and that the “fear” of disruption in power supply is “unfounded”. Furthermore, the ministry went on to claim that coal based power generation has grown by 24% this year and added that despite heavy rains, Coal India Ltd supplied more than 225 MT Coal to Power Sector.

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A day earlier on October 9, the Union ministry of coal stated that the total despatch of coal from all sources (Coal India Limited, Singareni Collieries Company, Captive Coal Mines and imported coal) was 1.92 million tonnes while the total consumption was 1.87 million tonnes. “Thus, the coal despatch have exceeded the consumption, thereby indicating shift to gradual building up of coal stock,” the ministry claimed in a press release on its website dated on Sunday.

In his letter to Modi, the AP chief minister stated that demand for power has gone up by 15% in the last six months and by 20% in the last one month. Jagan Mohan Reddy put forth four demands from the Centre, including diverting 20 % of coal rakes which he said could be directed towards AP’s thermal stations from the railways and coal ministry.

“The stranded/non-working pit-head coal plants in India without PPAs or coal linkage may be revived on emergency basis. Some of these projects are under the CIRP process by NCLT. Such plants must also commence operations immediately, regardless of the stage of the proceedings at NCLT. This will save the coal transport time and quantity limitations in coal transportation to non-pit head coal plants,” Jagan Mohan Reddy had said in his letter.

The AP chief minister also suggested that deep water well gas available with ONGC and Reliance may be supplied on emergency basis to the 2300 MW non-working gas plants in AP. “The deficit of nearly 500 MW from Central Generating stations due to plant maintenance can be bridged by reviving the plants at the earliest or the maintenance be postponed,” he told the Prime Minister.

According to Jagan, AP has been meeting grid demands of approximately 185-190 Mega Units (MU) of daily power generation, with 45% of power generation by Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation (APGENCO). He expressed concerns stating that depleting coal stocks will hamper power generation soon. Jagan also pointed out that power stations are functioning at 50% capacity of their 90 MU per day capacity.

“The Central Generating Stations have also not been able to supply more than 75% of their 40 MU/day capacity. In order to absorb energy from the 8000 MW of renewable energy capacity, the Andhra Pradesh State has not been executing contracts with coal based plants and consequently, it depends heavily on market purchases for sourcing its shortfall energy,” the AP chief minister’s letter added.

Requiring PM Modi’s “urgent intervention”, Jagan said that more water is required in the last stage of harvesting and that if it is denied, fields would dry up and farmers stand to lose. He cautioned that unplanned power cuts in AP, once resorted to, will lead to “chaotic conditions” as it happened earlier in 2012.

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