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Govt hints coal crisis was caused by power sector’s failure to predict surge in demand

While refraining from pinning the blame on any side, the govt has for the first time hinted what could have caused the grim coal crisis between September and October this year
Govt hints coal crisis was caused by power sector’s failure to predict surge in demand (Image is a file photo of Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi.)
Govt hints coal crisis was caused by power sector’s failure to predict surge in demand (Image is a file photo of Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi.)
  • At the end of FY21, coal stocks were at a record hight at Coal India Ltd (CIL) mines and at lower levels in thermal power plants, said Pralhad Joshi
  • Thermal power plants stock up coal on the basis of their expectation of likely power demand and other reasons, the minister told the Lok Sabha

New Delhi: While refraining from pinning the blame on any side, the government has for the first time hinted what could have caused the grim coal crisis that India faced between September and October this year. Responding to a question raised in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi said at the end of FY21, coal stocks were at a record high at Coal India Ltd (CIL) mines and at lower levels in thermal power plants. This shows that even though coal was available, power plants had regulated offtake as they did not expect a surge in power demand.

However, in response to a question on whether the responsibility for the lapse has been fixed or not, the minister responded by saying that the need does not arise.

Coal crisis: Coal availability impacted by carry-over of stocks, says Joshi

Responding to the question, Joshi said, “… coal availability is also impacted by the carry-over of stocks from the previous year. These stocks were lower at thermal power plants on 31st March, 2021 than on the same date last year. The stocks at CIL mines were, however, at a record high. Thermal power plants stock up coal on the basis of their expectation of likely power demand and other reasons.”

Coal India supplied nearly 60 MTs more coal in Apr-Sept period y-o-y

According to the figures shared by the minister in the Lok Sabha, Coal India supplied 324.2 Million Tonnes (MT) of coal to the power sector in the April-September period of the current financial year, which was around 58.9 MT higher when compared to the previous year’s figures for the same period. In the corresponding period of FY21, CIL had supplied 265.3 MTs of coal. 

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Coal-based power generation also witnessed a rise in the April-September period of the current financial year at 510.9 Billion Units (BU), up from 429.2 BU recorded in the corresponding period of the previous year.

No shortage of coal in the country right now: Minister

In response to a separate question raised in the Lower House of Parliament, the minister said that there is no shortage of coal in the country. “There is no shortage of coal in the country. Due to increased demand of power, less power generation by imported coal-based power plants and some interruption in supply of coal due to heavy rains, the coal stock at the power plants depleted to 7.2 MT (sufficient for 4 days) as on 8th October, 2021. Subsequently with increased coal supplies, the coal stock has started increasing and has now reached 16.74 MT (sufficient for 9 days) as on 25.11.2021,” Joshi told the Lok Sabha.

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