The Power Ministry on Saturday said the unprecedented increase in electricity demand due to revival of the economy is one of the reasons behind depletion of coal stocks at power plants.
Heavy rains in coal mine areas in September have affecting coal production and a rise in imported coal prices resulting in dependence on domestic coal are also some of the reasons behind the coal shortage in the country, the Power Ministry added.
The Power Ministry further said it has set up a Core Management Team (CMT) which is closely monitoring and managing coal stocks on daily basis. The team is ensuring follow-up actions with Coal India Limited and Railways to improve the coal supply to power plants, added the Ministry.
"Ministry of Coal and Coal India Limited have assured that they are making best efforts to increase dispatch to power sector to 1.6 MT/day in next 3 days and try to touch 1.7 MT/day. It's likely to help in gradual build up of coal stocks at power plants in near future," the Power Ministry said.
This comes after the coal shortage has started impacting power generation in many states including Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh. Many states have even said there will be power shortages if the demand isn't met soon.
In Punjab, coal shortage at thermal power plants has forced power utility PSPCL to cut down power generation and impose rotational load shedding at several places in the state.
Coal-fired power plants are running at a reduced capacity because of the shortage of coal, said an official of Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL) on Saturday.
With the power situation turning grim, power plants in the state are left with coal stock of up to five days, a PSPCL official said.
"Plants are running at a reduced capacity," said the official adding that they were not being run at full capacity to conserve coal.
The demand for power at present is about 9,000 megawatts (MW) in the state.
Delhi could face a power crisis due to coal shortage, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday, and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene so that coal and gas can be diverted to generating plants which supply electricity to the national capital.
Delhi Power minister Satyendar Jain said the crisis has been averted for two days after resumption of gas supply to the Bawana plant.
He, however, warned that the national capital may face a "blackout" if NTPC Limited does not supply power in the coming days.
The minister also said it appeared to him that the crisis was "man made".
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has sought PM Narendra Modi's urgent intervention in view of the alarming situation in the state due to unfolding energy crisis.
Voicing his concern over the coal shortage and poor finances of power distribution companies, he urged the PM to initiate remedial measures and monitor the power generation scenario on daily basis.
In a letter to Narendra Modi, the chief minister said it has become increasingly difficult for the state to meet the energy demand and the situation was pushing it towards load shedding.
He stated that given the state's precarious financial situation, it was not able to purchase required power from the open market as the purchase prices have also shot up with growing demand.
(With inputs from agencies)