AIADMK blames DMK government for power outage; minister passes buck on Centre

Chief Minister M K Stalin, meanwhile, urged the Prime Minister to direct the Union Coal Ministry to ensure supply of 72,000 MT coal per day as per the Fuel Supply Agreement

Tangedco seeks yearly hike in tariff
Due to the resultant shortage of domestic coal, TANGEDCO has to resort to import coal at the current historically high prices, for maintaining uninterrupted power supply. Further, the gap in power generation is also being filled by buying power at high rates in energy exchanges.

While the AIADMK targeted the ruling DMK on Friday (April 22) in the Assembly over power cuts in Tamil Nadu, the State government blamed inadequate coal supplies by the Centre and sudden interruption in power supply from the Central pool, and hit out at the principal opposition party for a “mischievous campaign” on power outage in the State.

Chief Minister M K Stalin, meanwhile, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the Union Coal Ministry to ensure supply of 72,000 MT coal per day as per the Fuel Supply Agreement at Paradip and Visakhapatnam ports. “Only this step can enable us to maintain uninterrupted power supply in the State and hence I solicit your personal intervention in this regard,” Stalin said in a letter to Modi.

Raising the power shortage issue in the House by moving a special call attention motion, leader of opposition K Palaniswami said that during the AIADMK regime, 17,120 MW electricity was made available to ensure that there were no power cuts. Considering the increase in power consumption during the summer season, the government should have stepped up electricity generation correspondingly.

However, the government did not store coal needed for power plants for the current season. Electricity Minister V Senthilbalaji had earlier said that requisite coal is available for summer season. However, power cuts are being witnessed and news reports say that it is due to coal shortage, the AIADMK leader said.

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In view of power cuts in several districts, including Villupuram, Cuddalore and Tiruvannamalai, farming activities, industries and students were affected and people could not have peaceful sleep at night. Hitting out at the government on the matter, Palaniswami demanded to know the action being taken to address the situation.

Senthilbalaji accused the opposition AIADMK of indulging in a mischievous campaign on the matter. Only in 41 places, disruption was seen in view of shortage of 796 MW for about half an hour, he said. An appearance was being sought to be created by the opposition AIADMK as if power cuts were not seen during its regime.

He cited 68 instances of power outage during the AIADMK regime from 2017 till 2021. However, after Chief Minister Stalin assumed office in May 2021, only once disruption was seen as supply from the Central pool was interrupted all of a sudden, he said.

Action was taken on a war-footing by the Chief Minister to address the issue. All steps have been taken by him to make Tamil Nadu a “power-surplus” State within five years, Senthilbalaji said.

Though adequate coal is not available to the State, there would be no power cuts, be it for industries or domestic consumers.

Palaniswami said Senthilbalaji had earlier assured coal availability and that there would be no power cuts. Terming the minister’ss reply to the motion moved by him as not satisfactory, the leader of opposition led a walkout of his party MLAs.

The Minister said when the CM assumed office the debt burden of the State-run electricity corporation (TANGEDCO-Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation) was Rs 1,60,000 crore and reforms have been initiated by the government. He said the Centre is being urged to ensure adequate coal supplies to the State. Barring Chennai, power cuts were witnessed for sometime in a number of places in the State on Wednesday and Thursday.

Stalin, seeking Modi’s urgent assistance, said provision of sufficient coal from Talcher mines in Odisha is vital for power units in Tamil Nadu. “In this regard, the current daily receipt of coal for Tamil Nadu’s units is only 50,000 MTs, against the coal requirement of 72,000 MTs.”

Even though coal production is sufficient to meet the increased summer demand for power, it is not getting transported to ports due to short supply of rakes by railways, the CM said.
“This, in turn, has resulted in the coal stocks of our State’s generation plants reaching critical levels. In the case of TANGEDCO, 22 railway rakes per day are required for moving 72,000 MTs of daily allotted coal to Paradip and Vishakhapatnam ports. However, on an average, only 14 rakes per day are currently being provided by the Railways.”

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Due to the resultant shortage of domestic coal, TANGEDCO has to resort to import coal at the current historically high prices, for maintaining uninterrupted power supply.
Further, the gap in power generation is also being filled by buying power at high rates in energy exchanges.

“Unfortunately, sufficient quantum of power is not available in energy exchanges to meet the requirement of all buying utilities.” This serious situation would significantly impact the nascent post Covid economic recovery and needs to be immediately addressed, the Chief Minister told the Prime Minister.

Considering the “critical scenario,” Stalin requested Modi to direct the Coal Ministry to ensure supply of 72,000 MT coal per day.

(With inputs from agencies)

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