Amid fears of a countrywide blackout owing to coal shortage, states have hit the panic button, preparing residents to be prepared for a blackout.
In the wake of this crisis, Union Home Minister Amit Shah met ministers in charge of coal and power ministries on Monday and discussed the supply of coal to power plants and power demands. Senior bureaucrats and NTPC officials attended the meeting.
On his part, Union Minister of Power RK Singh has reassured that the situation is under control and that coal supply will improve very soon.
Talking to a channel separately, power secretary Alok Kumar highlighted the outstanding dues several states had towards coal companies due to which the crisis was aggravated. He however said that the shortage would be brought down soon as the coal secretary had assured him of adequate supply to power producers.
On Monday (October 11), Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodiya refused to believe in RK Singh’s assurance. He likened the situation to the infamous oxygen crisis of April-May when “the Centre promised they had enough oxygen, but there wasn’t enough”. Singh responded saying, “We have an average coal reserve (at power stations) that can last for more than four days. The stock is replenished every day. I am in touch with (Union minister for Coal and Mines) Pralhad Joshi.”
But fear of a power blackout still looms large. Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Monday said his government will not let a power blackout take place in the state and he has asked the Centre to ensure adequate supply of coal. “Not only Punjab, the entire country is facing the power crisis because of coal shortage,” Channi told reporters. Punjab has already imposed rotational load shedding at several places due to the severe coal shortage at thermal power plants.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Andhra CM Jagan Mohan Reddy too reached out to the Prime Minister, reporting the dire state of power supply in their respective states.
RK Singh tried to allay states’ fears. “The panic has been unnecessarily created and the country has four days’ reserve…Delhi will continue to get supply and there will be no load shedding… The supply of domestic or imported coal will continue irrespective of the charges. Under no circumstances the gas supply will come down,” he added.
The power minister pulled up officials from GAIL (Gas Authority of India Limited) for sending “wrong messages” to distributors on the supply to be affected.
Besides Punjab and Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Kerala too have raised concerns over blackout fear.
On Saturday (October 10), Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi had said that the hike in the international price of coal along with extended monsoon in India so far has resulted in coal shortage.