India's Federal Government Blames States for Coal Mismanagement Amid Heavy Load Shedding
13:05 GMT 13.10.2021 (Updated: 10:39 GMT 19.07.2022)
Several Indian states including Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Bihar, Kerala, and Jharkhand have flagged concerns about alarmingly low coal reserves, warning of potential blackouts. Many states are already imposing long power cuts and resorting to buying electricity from external exchanges at exorbitant rates.
As many states in India continue to impose long power cuts citing coal shortages, the central government has blamed them for not lifting the coal quota from Coal India Limited.
Coal India Ltd is a central government-owned coal mining and refining corporation.
While rejecting the states' claims about the coal shortages in the country, the Narendra Modi government has revealed the daily production of coal is being raised from 1.94 million tonnes to 2 million tonnes from next week.
Coal India Ltd, the single largest coal-producing company in the world, maintains that no supplies have been disrupted.
The government has also cited heavy monsoon rains in coal mining areas as a reason for the shortages throughout the country.
Government sources told the ANI news agency that "states have to pay nearly INR 200 billion ($3 billion) to Coal India Ltd. and the payment is pending for a long time."
12 October 2021, 15:24 GMT
"The Coal Ministry has been writing to states to pick up stocks from Coal India Ltd since January but received no response. Coal India can only stock a limit as over stocking can cause a coal fire. Jharkhand, Rajasthan, and West Bengal have their coal mines but there was little or no mining in the recent past," said government sources.
Punjab, which is witnessing nearly six-hour power outages both in rural and urban areas, is trying desperately to meet electricity demand.
10 October 2021, 12:35 GMT
Talking to Sputnik, A. Venu Prasad – additional chief secretary in Punjab government's Department of Power – said: "Right now we are focusing on resolving the crisis. Our job right now is to get coal and maintain the power supply."
On Tuesday, P.K. Mishra, the principal secretary to the prime minister, held a meeting with Coal Secretary Anil Kumar Jain to draw up a plan to ensure uninterrupted fuel supplies to power plants.
The federal government sent a letter to all state governments and distribution companies on Tuesday to warn that it would curtail electricity supplies if anyone was caught selling power to cash in on surging electricity prices.
"It has been observed that some states are not supplying power to their consumers and imposing load shedding in some areas. At the same time, they are also selling power in the power exchange at a high price," read the letter signed by Devashish Bose, the deputy secretary in the Ministry for Power, the Hindustan Times reported.