As the number of power plants which are left with less than four days of coal reserves continues to remain high as they reached 61 on October 19 from 58 on October 18, the government is aiming to maintain strategic reserves of natural gas and imported coal to supplement future demand.
Power Secretary Alok Kumar, while addressing an event organised by industry body CII on Thursday, said that it is time to start thinking of keeping strategic reserves of gas and imported coal so that such supply shocks can be overcome.
Mr Kumar gave the example of Russia and said that nations meet their own demands first whenever there is a power crisis like situation and cut down supplies to European nations because they required it locally.
After being hit by severe coal shortage earlier this month, while the stocks of dry fuel at power plants across the country have improved, the crisis like situation continues.
The government on its part had first said that there is no crisis as Power Minister R K Singh had claimed that plants had sufficient coal stock, however these had to be fast replenished as several states faced possibilities of outages.
Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi recently said that coal supplies to power plants will be increased to 2.2 million tonnes daily to help fuel stocks reach 10 million tonnes by 2021, from the present levels of around 7.5 million tonnes.
India’s current coal crisis has coincided with a sharp spike in electricity demand, growth in number of electricity consumers, and inadequate stocking up by power projects before the monsoon.
Also, heavy rains in September impacted coal production and dispatch, and non-payments of coal dues also contributed towards inadequate supply.