New Delhi | Reuters: The northwest Indian state of Rajasthan said on Friday it will schedule one-hour power cuts due to a nationwide coal shortage that has pushed many utilities to the brink of running out of coal. Rajasthan's government-run utility said it would make the cuts in 10 major cities that are home to millions of people, making it the first state to officially schedule outages due to the crisis.

The Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (JVVNL) in a statement said that it will resort to one-hour power in 12 districts across the state to overcome the drop in power generation due to coal shortage in thermal power station. The 12 districts where power cuts will be made from today are Jaipur, Dausa, Alwar, Bharatpur, Dholpur, Kota, Bundi, Baran, Tonk, Jhalawar, Sawai Madhopur and Karauli.

Northern states including Rajasthan have faced crippling power supply shortages of up to 14 hours in some regions, an analysis of government data and interviews with residents showed, contradicting government assurances there is enough power.

The shortages in India - the world's second largest coal consumer - follow widespread outages in neighbouring China, which has shut factories because of the crisis. Over half of India's 135 coal-fired power plants, which in total supply around 70% of the country's electricity, have fuel stocks of less than three days, data from the federal grid operator showed.

The eastern states of Jharkhand and Bihar are also among the worst affected by the coal shortage, an analysis of daily load despatch data from federal grid regulator POSOCO showed. Separately, Andhra Pradesh state in the south said acute supply shortfalls were pushing it towards unscheduled power cuts, adding that crops could dry up if there is no electricity to power irrigation pumps.

"More water is required in the last stage of harvesting and if it is denied, fields would dry up and farmers stand to lose," Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.

Reddy suggested that deep water well gas available with ONGC and Reliance be supplied to revive stranded gas-fired plants in the state, and financial institutions should lend liberally to distribution companies to buy coal.

"The rates in Day-Ahead and Real Time power markets are soaring day by day. It is quite an alarming situation and finances of distribution companies would deteriorate further if the situation persists," Reddy said in the letter.

Posted By: Mallika Mehzabeen