As heatwave continued to grip the Capital, with the maximum temperature settling five degrees above the normal at 43.5 degrees Celsius, Delhi Power Minister Satyendar Jain appealed to the Centre to ensure a continuous supply of coal.
“The situation in Delhi is serious. All the power plants that provide electricity to Delhi have only one day of coal left. At present, depending on the supply, we are left with only the next day’s coal,” Mr. Jain said.
He added that more than 21 days of backup is the norm in all power plants and that under any circumstance, there must be at least seven days of coal storage so that the power plants could operate at their full capacity.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed concern over the shortage of coal reserves in power plants across the country. Through a tweet on Friday morning, he said, “The entire country is witnessing disruptions in power. Till now, in Delhi, we have somehow managed the situation. But the situation in India is very concerning. We all will have to take steps together to resolve this issue. We need to take immediate, strong measures to deal with this situation.”
Reacting to Mr. Kejriwal’s comment, Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta said the Delhi government was spreading rumours about coal shortage just as it had done earlier as well.
“Using the shortage of coal supply as a pretext, the State government is pinning the blame on the Centre to hide its own shortcomings. The railway ministry has already provided 415 trains to supply coal, in which each train has the capacity to carry 3,500 tonnes of coal,” Mr. Gupta said.
He asked if there were just one or two days of coal stocks left in power plants supplying electricity to Delhi, then why did the Delhi government not take corrective steps earlier.
A day after the Capital saw its peak power demand surging to 6,000 MW, Mr. Jain said the biggest reason behind the shortage of coal supply was the lack of railway rakes.
“It is the responsibility of the Central government to supply coal to power stations. The number of railway rakes, instead of being increased, has been reduced from 450 to 405. These power stations play an important role in avoiding blackouts in parts of Delhi. They also ensure a continuous supply of electricity to Delhi Metro and hospitals,” Mr. Jain said.
Heatwave to continue
While red flags are being raised about the shortage of coal in the Capital, the mercury almost touched 46 degrees Celsius in several parts of Delhi. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heatwave conditions in the Capital till May 2.
The official weather station at Safdarjung recorded a maximum temperature of 43.5 degrees Celsius for the second consecutive day. It is the highest maximum temperature on a day in April in 12 years.
Other parts of the Capital saw even higher daytime readings, almost five to seven degrees above the normal for this time of the year. The mercury soared to a maximum of 45.7 degrees Celsius at the Ridge, 45.9 degrees Celsius at Mungeshpur, 45.9 degrees Celsius at Najafgarh and 45.9 degrees Celsius at Pitampura.
For Saturday, the IMD has issued an “orange” alert, warning people of a severe heatwave in many parts of Delhi.
The weather department has predicted a “partly cloudy sky” with heatwave conditions at a few places. The maximum and minimum temperatures are likely to hover around 44 and 26 degrees Celsius respectively.