Indian official warns of rolling power cuts amid coal shortage
10/14/2021 // Ramon Tomey // Views

An official in the Indian union territory of Delhi has warned of a power crisis in the country's capital spurred by coal shortages. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal issued the warning on Oct. 9 alongside a letter addressed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The coal shortages have forced electric companies in neighboring areas to shut off power supplies in order to save on fuel.

Kejriwal has posted his warning on Twitter, accompanied by his letter to Modi. His tweet says: "Delhi could face a power crisis. I am personally keeping a close watch over the situation. We are trying our best to avoid it. [Meanwhile], I wrote a letter to [the prime minister] seeking his personal intervention."

The letter cites existing regulations in place that mandate coal-powered plants to maintain a coal stock good for 10 days and 20 days. However, the five stations mentioned have dangerously low coal supplies. One power station only has enough coal for four days, three power stations only have enough for one, while one station has no coal at all.

"If this situation continues unabated, it would severely impact the power supply situation in Delhi," Kejriwal writes.

The chief minister proposes that coal from other power plants be diverted to power stations that supply electricity to the capital. He also proposes that "adequate quantities" of natural gas be directed to plants in order to "maintain uninterrupted power." Kejriwal notes that a consistent power supply is needed – most especially by hospitals, health care centers and vaccine storage facilities.


According to state-owned electric grid company Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO), coal supplies for more than 50 percent of India's 135 coal-fired power plants will run out in less than three days. Coal-fired power plants are responsible for roughly 70 percent of India's electricity supply. (Related: India facing massive, widespread power outages as worldwide shortage of coal takes plants offline.)

Power outages hit other parts of India

Delhi is not the only area that has succumbed to electricity supply disruptions due to coal shortages. Other states in India have also suffered from power cuts and are set to experience more, Reuters reports. Despite the Indian government's assurances that there is sufficient electricity supply, residents say this is not the case.

Based on POSOCO figures, the eastern states of Jharkhand and Bihar and the western state of Rajasthan are the most affected by the power cuts. The industrial states of Gujarat and Haryana, Rajasthan's industrial neighbors, have also faced more shortages than average. POSOCO data also shows that some parts of Uttar Pradesh state in the north have also experienced more power shortages.

The power outages also impact southern India, with the state of Kerala imposing limitations on the use of appliances. A senior official in Kerala's electricity board has asked citizens to restrict use of electrical appliances such as grinders and dryers after sunset.

Electronics store manager Prashant Raj attests to the power disruptions. Raj, whose store is located in Bihar's Madhubani district, says: "For the last several days, we haven't had power for [seven to eight] hours a day."

Meanwhile, 52-year-old Vaishali Master tells Reuters that the power outages in Aleesar, located more than 50 kilometers from the state capital of Jaipur, have lasted between 12 to 14 hours for a period of four days.

Industrialist V. K. Agarwal says the power disruptions in his home city of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh's capital city, have worsened over time. "We witnessed more than four disruptions, which lasted two to five minutes. In any industry, the disruptions cause more loss than the longer power cuts," he adds.

Given the situation, metals industry lobby group Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) has warned of plant closures and job losses if the coal shortage continues. In a letter to the Indian Ministry of Coal, FIMI Secretary General R. K. Sharma writes: "The current acute coal shortage due to various factors has created an immensely precarious situation for coal consumers – mainly the aluminum and steel industries."

Sharma also notes in his letter that power plants are running at critically low coal stocks, forcing them to operate "at a much-reduced capacity." He adds: "The industries are almost at a standstill and are left with no time to devise any mitigation plan to sustain operations." (Related: Lebanon plunged into darkness, India faces rolling blackouts, NYC pharmacy shelves BARE as global collapse accelerates, leading to rolling blackouts across the USA.) has more articles about the power cuts in India caused by coal shortages.

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