The news of coal shortage in India has made a lot of headlines at this time. It is being said that in the coming time, there may be an unexpected power crisis. India has 135 coal-fired power plants, of which more than half are facing coal shortages due to severe depletion of coal reserves. The story of industrial coal mining in India begins with Raniganj in West Bengal where the East India Company mined coal for the first time in 1774 in the Narayankudi area. But at that time the industrial revolution had not reached India and the demand for coal was very less. In such a situation, there was no large scale coal production in India for the next one century. The development of the steam locomotive in Britain in 1853 led to an increase in both production and consumption of coal. By the beginning of the twentieth century, coal production in India had reached 6.1 million tonnes per annum. But after independence, India’s aspirations grew and coal became an important means of meeting the energy needs of these growing aspirations. Today India is second only to China in terms of production and consumption of coal. India gets more than 70 per cent of its energy needs from coal-fired plants. Since the nationalization of coal mines in 1973, most of the coal is produced by government companies.
Where are the largest reserves of coal?
Coal India produces more than 90 percent of the coal in India. Some mines have also been given to large companies, these are called captive mines. These captive mines are produced by the companies in their own plants. India is one of the five countries in the world with the largest reserves of coal. The United States, Russia, Australia, China and India have the largest reserves of coal in the world. According to the Ministry of Coal, Government of India, India has coal reserves of 319 billion tonnes. Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra have the largest deposits of coal in India. Apart from this, coal has also been found in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya, Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. India, one of the largest coal producing countries in the world, today stands on the verge of an unprecedented coal crisis. Fears have been expressed that if the country does not recover from this crisis in time, then there may be a massive power cut.
How many days’ consumption of coal stock?
Two-thirds of India’s 135 coal-fired power plants are currently facing a coal crisis. Generally, coal plants in India keep coal reserves for a month’s consumption. But at present, two-thirds of the plants have an average coal reserve of three days. According to a research report by India Ratings, in July 2021, coal stocks in India’s coal plants had an average consumption of 17 days, which has now been reduced to an average of only four days. Many coal plants have closed due to lack of coal. According to Nitin Bansal of India Ratings, the total production capacity of the power plants that were closed till August 31 was 3.9 GW, while 13.2 GW of capacity had been closed till September 30. At the same time, the power plants, which were closed till October 8, have a capacity of 20.3 GW. Till 31 July 2021, only two coal plants in the country were closed due to lack of coal. By October 10, the number of closed plants increased to 16. Not only this, on October 10, there were 30 coal plants in the country in which coal was left for a day’s consumption.
Who is responsible for power supply?
In India, the responsibility of supplying electricity lies with the state governments. State governments buy electricity from power distribution companies and then this electricity is given to the consumers. In many states, private companies are also engaged in the work of distribution of electricity. Due to the current coal crisis, power cuts are being made in many states. Electricity is being cut for one to four hours in 12 districts of Rajasthan. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to cooperate in dealing with the coal crisis. Mumbai, the financial capital of India, is also standing on the cusp of power crisis. The Maharashtra government’s electricity department says it needs immediate funding of Rs 730 billion to keep the supply going. At the same time, the Uttar Pradesh government has appealed to the citizens to use electricity wisely. State Energy Minister Shrikant Singh has told that to continue the power supply, the government has to buy electricity at an expensive rate of Rs.17 per unit. Amidst all this, the central government has said that everything is fine in the country and the coal shortage will be removed soon.
What was the impact of Corona?
India has 319 billion tonnes of coal reserves. India produced 73.08 million tonnes of coal in the year 2019-20, while in the year 2020-21 this production was 71.60 million tonnes. In 2020, due to the reduced power consumption due to the Corona epidemic, the consumption of coal also decreased and this also affected the production. India has the fifth largest coal reserves in the world and this is enough to meet India’s needs. The demand for coal in India usually increases in the month of October. But this time there are several reasons why thermal plants are not getting enough coal in October. India’s economy is getting back on track after the corona pandemic. After the first wave of corona in India, there was a decline of 7.3 percent in the economy. The industries were getting back on track when the second wave of the epidemic came due to the delta variant of the corona virus. After the wave that came in April-May 2021 was suppressed, now the country’s economy is back on track. Electricity consumption has increased by 16 percent in August 2021 as compared to August 2019.