India's coal power plants about to run out of stocks

India's coal power plants about to run out of stocks

Workers walk on a heap of coal at a stockyard of an underground coal mine in the Mahanadi coal fields in Orissa.

Indian coal-based power plants are struggling to keep up with daily demand and almost half of them only have enough stocks to last a week, the minister of state for power, coal and new and renewable energy said Monday.

Speaking to the upper house of parliament, Piyush Goyal called power utilities to increase coal imports to meet fuel shortages and avoid the every day more frequent blackouts, The Economic Times reports.

He also said state-run Coal India Limited (CIL), the world's biggest producer of the fossil fuel, has been asked to enhance production of domestic coal.

“The availability of coal in the country has been adversely affected due to coal scams during the previous government,” the authority said, adding the current shortage at coal-powered plants was estimated in 84.71 million mt in the fiscal year to March 31, 2015.

According to the authority, demand for coal-based power in the year will require 551.60 million mt of the mineral, whereas coal supplies are projected to be 466.89 million mt.

The minister blamed the numerous coal scams during the previous government for the penurious situation, with 65,000 MW of power generation projects currently shut down.

A total of 44 plants, including the super critical ones, have "critical coal stocks" sufficient for less than a week, with the majority in the state of Maharashtra, home to India's financial capital Mumbai.

Despite sitting on the world’s fifth largest coal reserves, India is only the No.3 importer, due mainly to delays in securing environmental clearances to add new mines and to build facilities to transport coal from remote mines.

Image by Biswarup Ganguly|Wikimedia Commons.