A battle royal is brewing between Coal India (CIL) and power plants over failure to maintain coal stockpiles. On October 22, coal stored at 26 of the 100 operational thermal power plants was insufficient for seven days worth of generation. This is despite a Central Electricity Authority guideline that power plants need to maintain 22 days of coal inventory.
Union Coal Secretary, Susheel Kumar asserts there is no shortage and power plants are intentionally not maintaining stockpiles. CIL officials add that fuel is available but power plants are not lifting it. Power plants are keeping inventories low since electricity demand has reduced.
The situation became complicated recently when generation from other sources such as nuclear (36 per cent), wind (14 per cent) and hydro (12 per cent) fell. That meant more thermal power was needed and the demand for coal rose by 20 million tonnes in the months of August and September. Now that there are different ministers for power and mining, the blame game has begun.
-Anilesh S. Mahajan Telecom