Shortage of coal to worsen power woes

Achieving 9 pc GDP difficult, PMs help sought
Last Updated 19 January 2012, 20:12 IST

Don’t expect your electricity problems to be solved in a hurry. With the ministry of power indicating that the country would face a shortfall of 238 million tonnes (MT) of coal in the 12th five year plan period (2012-2017), power woes will continue in the coming days too, and also trip the efforts to achieve 9 per cent GDP.

Coal-fired plants form 55 per cent of the country’s installed capacity of power generation.

As per the ministry working group draft for the 12th plan, coal availability will be 604 million tonnes against the required 842 MT for the country’s power utilities. To meet the shortage, the ministry says the power producing companies will have to import 159 MT immediately.

The ministry has set the target of building a generation capacity of 75,785 MW in the 12th plan period, of which about 85 per cent i.e., 62,695 MW production comes from coal-based source. As coal shortage is imminent, meeting the target will be difficult, sources in the ministry told Deccan Herald.

Besides, costly import makes power more expensive ultimately leading to distribution entities which sell power to jack up the prices, sources added.

In its 11th five-year plan ending March 2012, India will add only 52,000 MW against its target of adding 78,000 MW due to shortage of fuel.

Despite India having about 10 per cent of the world’s coal reserves, the country struggled to supply sufficient fuel to the power sector due to hurdles in land acquisition and environmental clearances for mining.

According to the power ministry, about 75,785 MW of new generation capacity will have to be built in 12th plan achieve 9 per cent economic growth rate. This calculation has been worked out on the basis of the fact that the 11th plan period (mid-term appraisal) saw a capacity addition of 62,374 MW.

The ministry also suggested opening up the domestic coal sector to private sector investment by removing the monopoly of the state-run Coal India and its subsidiaries.

Besides, it also suggested expeditious clearances for development of coal mining projects and improving the productivity by Coal India and its subsidiaries by upgrading mining equipment.

On Wednesday, a delegation of top private power producing company executives including Ratan Tata and Anil Ambani met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and urged him to address the problems of coal shortage, high fuel prices and delayed green clearances.

The delegation also requested the prime minister to reduce the customs duty on imported coal in the backdrop of rising coal prices in the international market.

(Published 19 January 2012, 20:10 IST)

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