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DARK DAYS AHEAD

The monsoon may worsen India’s power crisis this year

REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo
Short-term fix.
  • Niharika Sharma
By Niharika Sharma

Reporter based in New Delhi.

Published

The monsoon rains, due in India any day now, are set to worsen the country’s ongoing coal crisis, leading to more power outages.

“Based on the coal stocks in thermal power stations, the onset of the southwest monsoon will further hamper mining and transportation of coal from mines to power stations,” analysts at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), an independent organisation working for clean air and clean energy, have said in its latest note.

What’s worse is that this was expected but no measures were taken to avoid the situation.

India’s coal crisis

Currently, almost all major coal plants in India are facing a shortage.

“At the start of May, non-pithead power stations have only six days of coal left, against the stipulated 20-26 days,” CREA said. “This amount is sufficient to power the country for only seven days,” it said.

Pithead power stations, on the other hand, have coal stock enough for only 13 days. A pit-head power plant is one that is usually located close to the coal mine and has a captive transportation system to ensure a regular supply of the commodity.

India’s power supply problem

Besides coal shortage, inefficient distribution and official apathy are also worsening the problem of power shortage in the country, according to CREA. The organisation has highlighted that India produced 777.26 million tonnes of coal in the financial year 2022, an 8.5% increase from the previous year.

“India’s coal production this year was the highest in its history and ironically, millions of people are left vulnerable to power cuts amid severe heatwaves and other vagaries of Indian weather,” said Sunil Dahiya, an analyst at CREA. “Officials also know very well that monsoons will impact mining and transport. Yet,  no preemptive action was taken to resolve this crisis.”

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