Over a 3rd of power units have less than 7 days' coal
More than half the country's coal-based power-generation capacity has been running on less than seven days' fuel supply, power ministry data reveal.
The latest numbers showed 34 of India's 90 power stations were running on critical coal stocks - sufficient to sustain operations for less than seven days - as on Wednesday. These 34 stations account for 50,047 Mw of the country's total 97,920-Mw power capacity (51 per cent).
This explains why the issue of coal supply shortage emerged as states' greatest concern at Thursday's National Development Council (NDC) meeting, which saw Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking the Planning Commission to do a review and give its report within three weeks.
Among the worst sufferers are 14 power plants in the western states. These include Sikka and Sabarmati power plants in Gujarat and Chandrapur, Khaparkheda and Koradi stations in Maharashtra. Another eight critical projects in North India are the Rajghat power plant in Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi station in Haryana, Suratgarh in Rajasthan and Dadri and Anpara in Uttar Pradesh. Also, seven power units in the eastern region and five in the southern are running on low coal stocks.
Besides, data showed, 22 power stations had gone "supercritical" - with coal stocks for less than four days. These include three stations run by NTPC - Korba and Sipat in Chhattisgarh and Talcher in Odisha - and Anpara in Uttar Pradesh, which is run by private sector infra major Lanco Infratech.
The current coal shortage is because of production constraints, as well as problems in railway transport in some states. At the NDC meet, chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu had pressed for immediate resolution of the supply crunch.
The coal and railway ministries have been shifting blame on the dwindling stocks at power plants for over a year.
Photographs: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters