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Arvind Kejriwal cries ‘coal shortage’ and ‘power crisis’, two years after completely banning coal-based power plants in Delhi

In 2020, the Delhi Power Minister Satyendra Jain had written to Union power minister RK Singh and had urged him to shut down 11 thermal plants within a 300 KM radius of the national capital.

After Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the alleged coal shortage, on October 10, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia alleged the Central government was ignoring the ‘crisis’. He compared the situation with the oxygen crisis during the second Covid-19 wave earlier this year during the months of April and May.

Comparing with the medical oxygen crisis was a bit amusing because a detailed inquiry had found that the Delhi government had inflated demands and tried to manufacture a fake crisis of medical oxygen during the peak of the second wave of Covid this year.

Sisodia was addressing a press conference where he said, “For the last 3-4 days, the chief ministers across the country are flagging the issue to the central government. Amidst all this, the Union Power Minister is saying that there is no crisis at all. He said that Delhi Chief Minister should not have written a letter. Such an irresponsible approach of the Centre is very unfortunate.”

AAP’s Manish Sisodia alleged the central government is not taking steps to avoid the coal crisis. Source: Twitter

He further alleged that the government was following the policy of ‘closing eyes’, and it had created trouble in the past. He said, “If all chief ministers are flagging the issue of soal shortage, then attention should be given to it. The onus of the failure is completely on the Central government, just like before. They are mismanaging coal in the same way they mismanaged oxygen.”

Though Sisodia categorically mentioned the oxygen crisis during Covid, he forgot the fact that SC appointed audit panel had found that the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government had exaggerated the oxygen requirement in the national capital by more than four times during the April 25-May 10 peak period of the Covid-19 second wave.

Earlier, Delhi Power Minister Satyendar Jain had warned that the alleged coal shortage could cause a ‘complete blackout’ in the national capital if they do not receive an immediate supply of coal. He claimed the Delhi government was ready to buy expensive electricity as well. Delhi CM, in a tweet, had said that he was keeping an eye on the situation, and his government was trying its best to avoid the alleged power crisis in the national capital.

AAP govt had earlier banned thermal power plants in Delhi

Delhi’s AAP government is claiming that it is “trying its level best” to get coal for the thermal power plants. However, the past strategies of the Arvind Kejriwal-led government in Delhi against the coal-based power plants shows the party’s double face.

AAP announced a ban on thermal plants in 2019. Source: Twitter

In 2019, the Delhi government had announced a complete ban on coal-based power plants in Delhi. Moving a step ahead, it also imposed a ban on the industries that were using coal as a power source.

In 2020, the Delhi Power Minister Satyendra Jain had written to Union power minister RK Singh and had urged him to shut down 11 thermal plants within a 300 KM radius of the national capital. Moving a step ahead, just three months ago, in June 2021, the Delhi Government had approached Supreme Court and sought directions to close down ten coal-fired power plants in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.

Is there a coal shortage in India?

From the last couple of weeks, there has been a buzz in the power industry that India is facing a shortage of coal. Several states have written to the Centre to provide coal to the thermal plants as they are “running out of the stock”. AAP-led Delhi and Congress-led Punjab governments are among those who have requested a ‘faster supply of coal’.

Contrary to the claims in media reports and by some state governments, the central government has clarified on October 10 that there is no shortage of coal in the country. In a press release, the Ministry of Coal reassured that there is ample stock of coal in the country. Notably, despite monsoon and heavy rainfall in the region where coal mines are located in India, Coal India Limited has been continuously supplying coal to thermal plants across the country.

It is noteworthy that the international coal price has spiked exponentially in recent times, making it difficult for the central government to import coal that has added to the said ‘crisis’.

CIL had urged power companies to stock up coal

Interestingly, in September 2021, it was reported that CIL has been writing to the power companies not to regulate the intake of coal and build up coal stock at their end. CIL said that it would help the power companies to ensure a continuous power supply.

In the same month, CIL had stepped up supply to the power plants by 20%. The state-owned company had said that they had allocated supply to the power plants with zero to six days stock on priority and arranged alternate sources in case of an issue with the linked mines.

Temporary coal shortage is not a new phenomenon

Contrary to what some leaders and reports might be suggesting, the coal shortage is not something new. Every year, during monsoon season, there has been a shortage of coal for a limited timeframe which gets regularized quickly. In April 2018, there were reports of coal shortages in monsoon season that were refuted by the government.

In October 2019, CIL reported a 24% dip in production amidst heavy monsoon, which was later regularised. In November 2020, after the effects of the monsoon were over, CIL reported a 19% jump in coal production.

The coal ‘shortage’ is just a phase that India faces almost every year. This year, due to low imports, there might be a temporary reduction in supplies, but the central government has assured that there was nothing to worry about.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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