There could be a blackout in the national capital in the next two days if coal supplies to power plants do not improve, a Delhi minister said today. Delhi joins a long queue of states including Tamil Nadu and Odisha that have raised concerns over long power cuts due to shortage of coal in power plants.
Over half of India’s 135 coal-fired power plants, which in total supply around 70 per cent of the country’s electricity, have fuel stocks of less than three days, data from the central grid operator showed, news agency Reuters had reported earlier this week.
“If coal supply doesn’t improve, there will be a blackout in Delhi in two days,” the national capital’s Power Minister Satyendra Jain said today. “The coal-fired power plants that supply electricity to Delhi have to keep a minimum coal stock of one month, but now it has come down to one day,” Mr Jain said.
“Our request to the centre is that railway wagons should be arranged and coal should be transported to the plants soonest. All the plants are already running in only 55 per cent capacity,” the minister in Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government said.
Mr Jain alleged the coal crisis appears to be “man-made, just as the crisis of medical oxygen supply during the COVID-19 second wave.”
“There is politics going on. If you create a crisis, it will seem that some great work has been done by solving it,” the Delhi minister said.
Delhi has a 1,300 megawatt (MW) gas-fired power plant in Bawana on the city’s outskirts. “All three companies in Delhi are distributors and not power producers. We depend on the centre’s plants. If the supply does not come, then after two days there will be a blackout in the whole of Delhi,” Mr Jain said.
A Reuters analysis of daily load despatch data from the central grid regulator showed India’s power supply deficit in the first seven days of October amounted to 11.2 per cent of the country’s total shortages throughout the year.
The data is publicly available but the analysis provides a first concrete indication of the extent of the problem. Energy supplies are under strain globally as prices surge and demand and supply chains are strained by the recovery of consumption following lockdowns to contain the pandemic.
Mr Kejriwal today tweeted he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his intervention in making adequate arrangements of coal and gas to power plants supplying electricity to the city. “Delhi could face a power crisis. I am personally keeping a close watch over the situation. We are trying our best to avoid it. In the meanwhile, I wrote a letter to Hon’ble PM seeking his personal intervention,” Mr Kejriwal tweeted.