The number of powerplants with critical coal stocks has more than doubled to 24 this week from 11 a month ago, as they have stepped up electricity production because of higher demand for thermal power.
Coal stocks at 122 power plants have dropped from 14.5 million tonne, enough for 10 days, in September to 10.32 million tonne, which are hardly sufficient for six days with increased production. This has prompted the coal and railways ministries to prioritise supplies to public sector thermal power companies so that their stock positions are propped up to the required level.
Independent and captive power producers in the private sector are now complaining about receiving less than adequate coal for running their plants. This situation is forcing them to shut down units, the companies have alleged.
In a letter to the railways, South Eastern Coalfields said as per a direction of the government, supplies to public sector power producers like NTPC, NSPCL, CSPGCL, MPPGCL, MSPGCL and GSECL should be prioritised irrespective of the overall allotments placed by the coal producer. In a separate letter, Mahanadi Coalfields instructed its area manager to load coal on rakes only for public sector power plants till the crisis is averted.
Power industry executives said giving priority to state firms was unfair. “Captive power producers have not been receiving coal for almost a month now,” said Rajiv Agrawal, secretary at the Indian Captive Power Producers Association.