by Pankaj Yadav
NEW DELHI, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Several Indian states have been facing intense heatwave with the temperature already reaching 46 degrees Celsius in the capital Delhi and surrounding states.
Besides the weather condition, many Indian states are also suffering an acute power supply shortage largely blamed on a lack of coal for power generation.
As per the data of the Central Electricity Authority, India currently needs 201,111 megawatts of electricity in power supply per day, which is expected to rise to 220,000 megawatts next month.
According to media reports, nearly a quarter of the power plants in India are presently shut due to a lack of coal supplies. The most affected states include Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
According to Shailendra Dubey, an expert on India's power sector, the main cause of the paucity of power supply is the shortage of coal supplies. "Many power plants of the capacity of around 9,745 megawatts are facing scheduled shutdown due to shortage of coal, and power plants of around 23,503 megawatts are shut for other reasons," said Dubey.
The Delhi government has already warned the local residents of increasing power cuts in the coming days, as it gets decreased power supplies from the power grids. With no power generation of its own, Delhi is dependent on other states for power supplies.
Delhi Power Minister Satyendar Jain reportedly said, "We should have a 21-day coal backup, but at many power plants, coal available is for less than a day."
"There is a need of some strong steps to handle this situation," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Friday.
Meanwhile, the federal Railways Ministry on Friday ordered the cancellation of 42 passenger trains to facilitate coal shipment, which is aimed at ensuring a faster delivery between the power plants and the coal-producing regions in the states of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.
Rural and remote areas are facing more power cuts, compared to urban areas. Power demand normally rises during summers as the need for running electronic appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators rises.
People in villages in Uttar Pradesh told Xinhua that they were getting power supply for 4-5 hours a day, while residents in cities and urban areas were facing power cuts for up to eight hours a day.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said power cuts were leading to joblessness in the South Asian country.
Rejecting Rahul's estimates of inadequate coal stocks in the country, Power Minister R.K. Singh said there were enough coal reserves in the country, with a reserve stock of 22.3 million tonnes.
Union Minister for Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi said on Twitter that coal companies have achieved the highest ever production in 2021-22, with 30 percent growth from captive mines.
In April alone coal production has further increased by 27 percent and the supplies to thermal power stations by 14 percent over last year, Joshi said.
The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Limited on Friday said its two thermal power stations located in Unchahar and Dadri areas in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh were running at more than 100 percent capacity.
These two coal-powered stations meet nearly 25-30 percent of Delhi's electricity demand. ■