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Are power plants responsible for the impending coal shortage?

Are power plants responsible for the impending coal shortage?

An exclusive India Today investigation has found that Coal India Limited (CIL) wrote to power plants on March 18, 2021, anticipating a power surge and asked them to stockpile coal.

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An exclusive India Today investigation has found that Coal India Limited (CIL) wrote to power plants on March 18, 2021, anticipating a power surge and asked them to stockpile coal. But, sources say that power plants continued to not adhere to the advice.

CIL, anticipating a positive trend in power generation, has been requesting powerhouses to increase the stocks at its power plants to prevent any crisis in the future resulting from a shortage of coal, almost 16 per cent of coal with CIL remained unutilised in March 2021.

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Letter in possession with India Today suggests that Coal India wanted power plants to increase the off-take of coal due to increased power demand. Sources add that power plants in the country continued to pay no heed to the advice.
"Even during this situation where power demand is at its peak, power plants are not submitting adequate program from ECL, BCCL and CCL which is hampering the power dispatch as well as overall dispatch performance," the letter dated March 18, 2021 had said.

Furthermore, sources suggest that Coal India had been writing to power plants since October 2020, advising that surplus coal is available and asking them to restock their reserves.

Sources attribute the current surge in demand for power and coal to four reasons: Covid-19 surge in cases that hampered transportation, and monsoon delaying the stocks. The high rate of importing coal had resulted in additional power plants banking on Coal India and a sudden surge in power demand.

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