Amid reports of coal shortage affecting power production in several states, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) on Wednesday claimed that the crisis was created by some vested interest, as CIL has made a record supply of dry fuel to power plants in the quarter ended September.
CITU general secretary Tapan Sen also alleged that power plants are not complying with the norm of maintaining 20 days of coal stock, exposing lack of monitoring by the authorities.
“Some quarters with vested interests, obviously with the full connivance of the BJP government (at the Centre), have created the crisis,” Sen said.
When the CIL supplied a record amount of coal in the last quarter, the present crisis is nothing but an artificial one created by the corporates for long and short term profiteering, he claimed.
Coal India Ltd (CIL) supplied 117.6 million tonnes (MTs) to power utilities during the July-September quarter, the highest for Q2 of any year, posting 12.3 per cent growth, according to official data.
This is a volume jump of 13 MTs compared to 104.7 MTs of the same quarter last year. The growth is even higher at 17.2 per cent when matched against 100.3 MTs of covid-free second quarter of FY’20.
The CITU head accused the government of failing to monitor stocks of power plants.
“The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) norms mandate thermal power stations to maintain at least 20 days of stock. Most of the power stations did not comply with these norms. Why did the power sector lift much less than their desired quantity of coal during this period?
“It is obviously a failure at the policy and monitoring level. The government of India is accountable for it,” Sen said.
The international price of coal, especially that from Indonesia which is mostly imported by India, rose from USD 60 to USD 240 per tonne recently.
A number of coastal power plants using imported coal completely stopped production from the third week of September saying they were incurring losses because of the hike in international coal price.
The government under the national tariff policy allowed these private players to increase the prices from Rs 9 to Rs 21 per unit.
“The electricity tariff is likely to increase further on the pretext of the power crisis if people do not fight against it. It will only accelerate the process of selling off power sector PSUs for a song to these corporates.
“It also smacks of a conspiracy to sell the CIL blaming it for the shortage of coal production,” he added.
The shortage of coal — which makes up around 70 per cent of India’s electricity mix — has forced rotational power cuts in states from Rajasthan to Kerala.
About two-thirds of the coal-fired power plants had stockpiles of a week or less, but the coal ministry earlier said, “any fear of disruption in the power supply is entirely misplaced”.
States have been forced to buy power from exchanges at high rates to meet the demand.
Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi, however, said there will be no crisis to meet the supply of coal for power generation.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)