Power crisis: Home Minister Amit Shah holds high-level meeting
Amid a power crisis in India, Union Home Minister Amit Shah reportedly convened a high-level meeting on Monday to review the situation. Union Power Minister RK Singh, Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, and Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi also attended the meeting. Several states have been reporting power outages as a result of the heatwave, which caused a rise in power demand, leading to coal shortages.
Why does this story matter?
Amid a rise in power demand, the shortage of coal is forcing several power plants to not operate at full capacity, triggering outages in many states. According to the Union Power Ministry, India's peak power demand reached an all-time high of 207.11 gigawatts on Friday. The problem has also been exacerbated by a sharp increase in imported coal prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war.
Power demand increased by 16% to 75% in north India
According to Reuters, India's power demand jumped 13.2% to 135.4 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in hot pre-summer months, while that of north India surged 16-75%. However, the power supply was 2.41 billion units, or 1.8%, short of demand in April, which is the worst since October 2015. Recently, the Delhi government stated there was an acute coal shortage at the city's critical power plants.
Centre expresses displeasure over Delhi government's statements
"There is an 'acute shortage' of coal due to the unavailability of an adequate number of railway rakes and there may be difficulty in electricity supply if power plants are shut," Delhi's Power Minister Satyendar Jain recently said. However, Union Power Minister Singh has expressed displeasure over Jain's statements and accused the Delhi government of misleading people by citing incorrect figures, PTI reported.
Coal reserves dropped 17% since beginning of April
Coal reserves in power plants across India dropped by at least 17% since the beginning of April; they are left with only a third of the total quantity required to function. The issue has emerged merely months after India faced a severe power crisis in October 2021, when coal stockpiles fell to an average of four days, causing similar power blackouts in several states.
Railways cancels passenger trains for faster coal transport
Moreover, realizing the intensity of the power crisis due to coal shortages in various thermal plants, Indian Railways canceled many passenger trains for quicker coal transportation on Friday. It is also likely to add 1,00,000 more carriages to its fleet to meet the rising coal demand. Meanwhile, the Centre asked states to increase coal imports for the next three years and build up inventories.