Ind to see massive coal shortage affecting power plants soon

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New Delhi, Apr 13: With most parts of India reeling under a power crisis, the situation is all set to worsen after reports have emerged that 30 out of India's 95 thermal power plants have registered alarmingly low levels of coal.

As per the data available with the power ministry's advisory wing, Central Electricity Authority (CEA), of the 30 power stations that produce 26,320 mega-watt (mw) of power, 25 of them have coal stocks that can potentially last for only 4 days. Of the 25 power stations, five are from National Thermal Power Corp (NTPC) - in Delhi (Badarpur), Uttar Pradesh (Dadri and Unchahar), Andhra Pradesh (Simadhari), Bihar (Kahalgaon).

A senior power ministry official has been quoted as saying, “Any sudden disruption in coal supplies can affect power availability in a big way.” Against the typical requirement of 15-20 days of coal stocks, 30 power plants with a total capacity of 26,320 mw are at a critical level with less than 7 days of coal and out of these 25 plants with a capacity of over 21,000 mw have less than 4 days of stocks.

Data from the CEA has revealed that four plants especially have no coal stocks left and are relying on day-to-day supplies of coal. The Power Ministry and NTPC officials, however, taking matters into perspective said that "this is not anything unusual and there is no need to panic."

A senior power ministry official has been quoted as saying, “The situation is certainly alarming as any disruption in the movement of coal - either due to rain or for instance the tsunami alert which was announced on Wednesday - could make power plants run dry, thereby affecting power production."

An NTPC official added, "What if there is a repeat of last year-like situation when floods as well as labour unrest affected movement of coal and choked supplies at most power stations. We are certainly in for a trouble."

2011 saw more than 50% of India's thermal power plants struggling to get adequate coal supplies. The NTPC official further said, “The thermal plants had to suffer for adequate fuel supply for more than a month due to heavy rainfall, Telangana agitation and labour unrest."

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