Coal crisis | Stalin writes to PM; Maharashtra to import stocks

TN CM flags shortfall of thermal fuel; Ajit Pawar says State eyeing mine in Chhattisgarh

Updated - April 22, 2022 11:48 pm IST

Published - April 22, 2022 08:43 pm IST - CHENNAI/PUNE

Tamil Nadu has asked for increasing coal supply from 50,000 metric tonnes to 72,000 metric tonnes. File

Tamil Nadu has asked for increasing coal supply from 50,000 metric tonnes to 72,000 metric tonnes. File

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to ensure adequate availability of coal for the power generation units in Tamil Nadu. Separately, Maharashtra’s Deputy CM Ajit Pawar said the MVA government planned to import some coal in order to cope with the electricity crisis in the State.

Observing that the current daily receipt from the Talcher mines in Odisha was only 50,000 metric tonnes, Mr. Stalin requested Mr. Modi to direct the Union Ministry of Coal to ensure the supply of 72,000 metric tonnes a day, as per the Fuel Supply Agreement, at the Paradip and Vishakhapatnam ports.

“Even though the coal production is sufficient to meet the increased summer power demand, the coal is not getting transported to ports due to short supply of rakes by the Railways,” Mr. Stalin wrote in his letter, a copy of which was shared with the media.. “This, in turn, has resulted in the coal stocks of our State’s generation plants reaching critical levels,” he added.

While TANGEDCO required 22 rakes a day for moving 72,000 metric tonnes, only 14 rakes a day were being provided by the Railways, Mr. Stalin pointed out.

With the resultant shortage of domestic coal, TANGEDCO had to import coal at the “current historically high prices” for maintaining uninterrupted power supply, he contended. Further, the gap in power generation was also being filled with the purchase of power at “high rates” from energy exchanges.

“Unfortunately, a sufficient quantum of power is not available in energy exchanges to meet the requirements of all buying utilities. This serious situation would significantly impact the nascent post COVID-19 economic recovery and needs to be immediately addressed,” Mr. Stalin stressed.

Speaking in Pune, Mr. Pawar, who is also the district’s ‘guardian minister’, said that efforts were on to get a coal mine in Chhattisgarh allocated to the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Ltd. (Mahagenco).

“As load shedding is currently on in the State, a meeting on this issue was called by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, “ Mr. Pawar noted. “I will hold a review of the power department every week on the matter and the Cabinet has given its approval to check whether it is possible to source power from anywhere else in the country,” he said, adding that efforts were on to end the load shedding as soon as possible and ensure smooth power supply across the State.

The ongoing power crisis in the State engendered by an acute shortage of coal has led to the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trading charges over the issue. The MVA parties have pointed fingers at the BJP-ruled Centre for poor management of the supply of coal, while the BJP has said it is the State government’s fault.

Asked whether the Centre was playing “vendetta politics” by not providing coal to Maharashtra, Mr. Pawar skirted a direct answer and remarked that the supply of coal to various States was not happening in the desired manner.

“There is the question of supply through railway wagons… while I do not want to make any kind of allegation, the fact remains that there is a major shortage of coal,” he said.

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