New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Several states, including Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, have warned of blackouts in many cities due to a shortage of coal in thermal power plants across the country. Though the central government has assured that India has adequate coal stocks, it is not clear how long the situation will last and how it might affect other sectors in India as the festive season begins in the country.

Here's everything you need to know about the power crisis in India:

Is this power crisis a cause of worry?

India, which has the fourth-largest coal reserves in the world, heavily relies on thermal power plants to meet its energy demands. It is also the world's second-largest importer of coal and imports fuel from Australia, South Africa and Indonesia.

According to Central Electricity Authority (CEA), over half of India's 135 coal-fired power plants, which in total supply around 70 per cent of the nation's electricity, were left with an average of just four days of coal stocks by the end of September. This is a cause of worry as the festive season is underway in India and it might lead to an increase in the demand.

Why India is facing a shortage of coal?

There are four possible reasons for the shortage of coal in India. First, there has been an unprecedented increase in the demand for electricity as the Indian economy recovers from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. According to a report, in August this year, India consumed 124 billion units of power compared to 106 billion units last year.

Another factor is the continuous rains in coal mine areas during September. "If you compare with the past many years, coal production and dispatch have been the highest in September and especially in October. In another three to four days, things will be alright," Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The increase in prices of imported coal to an unprecedented high level leading to a substantial reduction in power generation from imported coal-based power plants, and non-building of adequate coal stocks before the onset of Monsoon are another reason behind the shortage of coal.

What the government has to say?

Though several state governments and power suppliers have warned of blackouts due to low coal supply, the Union Coal Ministry said that India has adequate fuel stocks and "low inventory doesn't mean generation will stop as stock is being continuously replenished". It also said that the stocks being reported by power plants is a rolling stock, which means stocks are being replenished on a day by day basis.

"Core Management Team (CMT) set up Power Ministry is closely monitoring and managing coal stocks on daily basis and ensuring follow up actions with Coal India Limited, Railways to improve the coal supply to power plants," said the Union Power Ministry in a statement.

"Ministry of Coal and Coal India Limited have assured that they're making best efforts to increase dispatch to power sector to 1.6 MT/day in next 3 days and try to touch 1.7 MT/day. It's likely to help in gradual build up of coal stocks at power plants in near future," it added.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma