Economy stares at power crisis as coal stocks hit new 25 year-low

While 61 thermal power stations have less than a week's stock of coal, NTPC is battling with 0-1 day of stocks at some of its plants.

(Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)

Coal stocks at the thermal power stations hit a new low in 25 years at 7.2 million tonnes, as state-owned Coal India (CIL) and its subsidiaries failed to meet their production targets, as per latest data by Central Electricity Authority.

According to latest official data (October 13) by the CEA, total fuel stocks at 103 coal-based stations have come down to 7.2 million tonnes. This 7.2 million tonnes comprises 6.58 million tonnes of indigenous coal and 706 tonnes of imported fuel.

The coal stock figures are the lowest in 25 years. The last time fuel stockpiles hit a low was in 2010 when it was 7.8 million tonnes, a Power Ministry official told PTI.

When asked about the reason for low stock piles, the official said, CIL's production is not in line with the demand of the power sector and its subsidiaries Northern Coalfields (NCL), Central Coalfields (CCL), etc. are not producing coal as per their respective targets.

As many as 61 thermal power stations are grappling with critical coal shortage with less than a week's stock at their disposal. The country's largest thermal power producer NTPC is battling with 0-1 day of stocks at some of its plants.

NTPC's generating stations with nil stocks include Indira Gandhi thermal plant in Haryana, Rihand, Singrauli and Tanda in Uttar Pradesh and Vindhayachal in Madhya Pradesh, CEA data said. According to the official, the company is generating lesser than full capacity at some of these power plants.

Of the 61 plants with less than seven days of fuel stocks left, 36 stations are reeling under acute shortage with less than four days of coal stock at their disposal.

Asked when the situation will improve, the official said that it could be in a couple of weeks because of improvement in weather. The power demand will come down as winters are approaching and this will reduce the impact of low stocks.

The official added that the real solution lay with CIL, which will have to meet its production targets and increase its capacity. CEA, the techno-economic clearance body under the Ministry of Power, is also engaged in setting generation targets and other milestones for the power utilities.