Acute shortage of coal feared; Railways cancel 42 passenger trains to clear routes and ensure faster movement of the fossil fuel

The severity of the looming crisis can be gauged from the fact that normally power plants are expected to have at least 21 days of reserve coal.

FPJ Bureau | Updated on: Friday, April 29, 2022, 11:42 PM IST

 Representative Image |
Representative Image |

The Delhi government on Friday sounded a note of caution, warning of an impending "acute shortage" of coal, claiming that many power plants have only one day’s stock in reserve.

The severity of the looming crisis can be gauged from the fact that normally power plants are expected to have at least 21 days of reserve coal.

In a panic mode, the Delhi government fears that the supply disruptions could lead to blackouts and impact services like the Metro and government hospitals.

The Delhi government’s grim outlook was reinforced by the fact that some 42 passenger trains have been cancelled across India to allow faster movement of coal. These trains have been cancelled indefinitely, Railways officials said. The Railways is trying to take steps on a war-footing to transport coal and also cut down the time it takes to move coal to power plants, officials said.

About 70 per cent of India's electricity is generated by coal. The lack of carriages makes it difficult to carry coal over long distances. Routes congested with passenger trains often delay shipments.

According to the Central Electricity Authority's daily coal stock report, 56 of the 165 thermal power stations are left with 10% or less coal. At least 26 have less than five per cent stock left, reports NDTV.

Last year, a similar crisis saw coal stocks plunge to an average of four days, which led to blackouts in several states. Incidentally, electricity demand has spiked owing to the heat wave.

The Congress on Friday asked Prime Minister Modi to lay out his plans for ensuring electricity supply as people are suffering power cuts of 6 to 10 hours in as many as 16 states and the situation will worsen in the month of May, which is just two days away.

"Our question is why many coal-based power stations are not operating. Out of 173 power plants in the country, 106 are having 25% or even less coal stock they are mandatorily required to maintain," Congress spokesman Prof. Gourav Vallabh told a Press conference here.

Experts say it may be weeks before the region’s annual monsoon sweeps in to provide relief. The heat wave poses health and logistical challenges for manual labourers, farmers, power engineers, government officials and firefighters, particularly in areas where air-conditioning is scarce.

Scorching temperatures have damaged harvests. One farmer in Rajasthan was reported as saying that 15 to 20 percent of the local wheat crop and half the cumin crop had been lost.

According to New York Times, climate scientists say that heat waves around the world are growing more frequent, more dangerous and longer in duration. And they are certain that global warming is responsible, because baseline temperatures are higher than they were decades ago.

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Published on: Friday, April 29, 2022, 11:42 PM IST