Maharatna PSU NTPC has asked the power ministry to ensure the availability of more coal to its six plants - which have a combined capacity of 16,840 megawatts or 15...
percent of India's total energy capacity from coal-fired plants - particularly as the incoming monsoon rains could disrupt supply deliveries.
The country, which uses coal to generate more than half of its electricity, is struggling to provide enough power to meet surging demand amidst scant rains and the country is regularly hit with blackouts.
"With the ensuing monsoon, it will become more difficult to replenish the coal stocks and in case of even a small disruption, the total power generation at these stations will be adversely affected," NTPC chairman Arup Roy Choudhury said in a July 14 letter to the Ministry of Power.
The stocks at three of the six plants would last less than one day, Choudhury wrote in the letter.
Another PSU major Coal India, the world's largest coal producer, has failed to raise its output fast enough, forcing India to import millions of tonnes of the black rock for its thermal power plants.
Weak monsoon rains have limited the output from hydropower plants - which provide about a fifth of India's energy - putting added pressure on the thermal plants to raise output.
Last week Power Minister Piyush Goyal urged power companies to raise thermal coal imports after saying that 26 out of 100 coal-based power plants in India had "super critical" stocks - or only enough to meet requirements for less than four days.
As of July 14, a total of 44 plants, including the super critical ones, have "critical" coal stocks - only sufficient for less than a week - with the majority of these in the state of Maharashtra, the home of India's financial capital Mumbai, Central Electricity Authority data shows.
In India, coal meets around 52 percent of primary commercial energy needs in India against 29 percent the world over and around 66 percent of India's power generation is coal-based.
India is the third largest coal producing country in the world after China and USA.
Operating through 81 mining areas, CIL is an apex body with seven wholly-owned coal producing subsidiaries and one mine planning and consultancy company spread over eight states.
Earlier, admitting that some of the power plants of the companies like NTPC are facing coal supply problem, the Power Ministry has sought the intervention of Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal for an urgent resolution. "Coal supply from Northern Coalfields Ltd (NCL) to Anpara (UPRVUNL), Anpara C (Lanco), Rihand and Vindhayachal (NTPC) is affected due to coal handling plant problem at Amlori, Nigahi, Jayant and Dudichua mines of NCL...These issues be resolved urgently so the coal supply to plant increases," the Power Ministry said in a document.
The ministry added that "materialisation" from Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) -- a Coal India (CIL) subsidiary -- and South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) -- a SECL arm -- is around 67 per cent and 87 per cent respectively, resulting in low coal stock with most of the power plants situated in the southern and western regions.
"MCL is having perennial problem of law and order while SECL is having transport contract issues in Gevra and Dipka mines," it said.
Besides, there is low production of coal in Singareni Collieries Company Ltd or SCCL due to environmental stipulations, it added.
Above all, the development came at a time when State-owned Coal India and NTPC are at loggerheads over quality of coal being supplied to the plants of the power producer.
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