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Several States Reel Under Power Cuts, Blackouts Due to Shortage in Coal Supply

Power plants temporarily shut in Pune, scale down generation in some states. Govt asks CIL to augment supply during Durga Puja.

Representational use only.

New Delhi: Coal shortage continued to hit power supply in several states, leading to severe power cuts and blackouts.

In Pune, 13 thermal plants supplying power to Maharashtra State Electricity Regulatory Commission had to temporarily shut down on Tuesday, according to a report in the Indian Express.

Vijay Singhal, Chairman and Managing Director of MSEDCL, appealed to consumers to use electricity sparingly. He was quoted as saying that the power utility was purchasing electricity at a high cost of Rs 20 per unit so that citizens were not inconvenienced. “

“There is a shortfall of approximately 15-2000 MW and we are purchasing power from the open market even if the cost is as high as Rs 20 per unit,” Singhal told The Indian Express.

In Rajasthan, both urban and rural areas were hit by power outages, as the state has been getting less than half the contracted volume of coal supply from Coal India Ltd, according to NDTV.

Power cuts and blackouts were also reported in Punjab and Jharkhand. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has already warned of a potential power crisis in the capital in a tweet on Saturday, seeking the Prime Minister’s intervention.

Citing power ministry data, NDTV reported that about two-thirds of India's coal-fired power plants had stockpiles of a week or less.

“If the stockpiles dwindle further, the country is counting on importing more coal and reviving idled plants that run on gas,” it added.

On Tuesday, Punjab, which continued to reel under unscheduled power cuts, finally received 12 rakes of coal, according to a report in The Tribune.

“Six rakes each reached Nabha Power Limited plant at Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo Power Limited plant at Mansa after Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi urged the Centre to immediately release coal for the state power plants,” the report said.

Meanwhile, Punjab’s problems may compound as PSEB engineers have decided to protest, demanding revised pay scales.

The PSEB Engineers Association president told The Tribune that all employees of the power department would switch off their phones and would not entertain consumer complaints till the government fulfilled its promise of granting them revised pay scales till October 22

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the government asked state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) to augment coal supply to power producers to 1.55-1.6 million tonnes (MT) per day around the Durga Puja period, and to further scale it to 1.7 MT per day after October 20, according to a source.

The development assumes significance in the wake of the country's power plants grappling with coal shortages in the country at a time when the festival season has already begun, said a PTI report.

"Yesterday (Monday), there was a meeting in Delhi and Coal India was asked to do (supply of) 1.55-1.6 million tonnes (of coal to power sector) per day around Puja time; and after October 20, the public sector undertaking is supposed to do 1.7 MT per day," the source privy to the development said.

The coal dispatches by CIL to the power sector on Monday stood at 1.615 MT.

Coal stocks at power plants will start building up from November 1 onwards, the source told PTI, blaming power plants for not replenishing stocks.

 "They (power plants) didn't replenish their stocks. Many of them took that risk. So, they are paying for it now," the source added.

(inputs from PTI)

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