India recorded its highest power supply shortage this year, last month as compare to previous years. According to the information, the shortage of 1,202 million units’ country noted in October 2021, which is said to be the highest in 5.5 years. The cause is unavailability of enough coal stocks that is making further process difficult for everybody involved. Hence, country is unable to meet domestic demands of power.
As per data released by Central Electricity Authority, as of October 13, in total 135 thermal plants of country are suffering from paucity of coal stock, which is estimated would last just four days. Out of which, 112 power plants are working with inadequate amount. India is the second largest coal importer with having fourth largest reserves in world that helps in 70% of the country’s demand. The current population of India is expected to be 1,398,272,416 as of November 6, displayed by worldometer. With massive number of people comes basic demands too and electricity is one of them. For up to three-fourth of coal consumption is needed by India to generate electricity. But according to India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, termed shortage of power supply and coal as a ‘baseless’ and called India as a new power surplus country, a report says.
The unavailability in coal stock is because of major drops in imports of the mineral and decrease in domestic production of the same. BP Global Energy Statistics says, domestic production of coal in India has been halted from past three years, that means 2018. Simultaneously, the amount of coal that generally get imports have been decreased to a level, which is affecting the crisis. As per the experts, the halted production did not bother much to the administration in meeting the demands during country shut down in pandemic, but this year high demand in electricity has somehow indicated the administration’s failure and the pressure to restart the production of coal within the country is created.
Several factors are suspected to be influencing the supply of coal in the country, this year. According to the information transport issues, small term problems in coal mining areas like flooding, unavailability of manpower and the sudden rise in power demands when economy has been hit by the pandemic. Bala is a worker in one of the Coal based power stations, located in Orissa. The coal source of this power station is Talcher Coal Field Lingraj Block and benefits more that 5 states including, West Bengal, Bihar, Sikkim, Assam. Bala told Eat News, ‘Yes we were informed about the shortage in coal amount and it has been difficult for us lately. Since it is a long process that has to be followed when in the plant while working, we don’t get time to actually discuss all such issues. We work from morning till night. Labors work in shifts and everybody are in different departments, that keeps on shifting.’
Bala works in night shift and talked about shortage in manpower. He said, ‘I am not educated and so I work here as a labor. Nobody wants to sweat it out, surrounded by dust, rocks, working all day long, and still I am unable to run my house. And that is the reason people doesn’t want to work in mines and power plants as a labor. We are experience shortage of manpower in every two or three months. In every three days we see a new face while working. I think, this is a place where manpower is never going to be enough.’ The plant also has gas-based power stations and Hydro based power projects.
Amid power crisis in the country, Nepal is about to sell its surplus electricity to India, for the very first time. As per the reports, India has allowed Nepal to start its power trade in Indian Power Exchange market. Energy Exchange under the Ministry of Power has given permit to neighboring country Nepal to trade. 39 MW electricity has been authorized by Indian Power Exchange to trade for the first step. Although leaders from both the countries have visioned it as a new step towards building a power trade, but the desperate need of power supply is what should be focused here.
Bala is one among thousands of people working in power plants to produce and generate power for the country but is it actually helping? India is expected to cut down restrictions on imported coal in coming days to cope up with the power crisis, country is suffering from. Administration is also pressurizing CIL (Coal India Limited) to increase production of coal within the country so that dependency on importing coal will be lesser.
The problem does not seem to be get resolved any way sooner, as Central Authority already admitted the shortage of coal stocks by releasing data, whereas Central minister declining the crisis status and calling it ‘baseless’.
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