Amid power outages, Opposition charges Government with mismanagement

Various States continued to grapple with power shortages on Friday amid soaring mercury pushing demand higher. Opposition parties blamed the Centre for coal shortages at thermal plants.

Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh on Friday said that 16 States were forced to have daily power cuts of up to 10 hours. He added that power stations with 72,074 mw capacity were not operating due to non-availability of coal even though there was no shortage of it. 

He also claimed that 106 of the total 173 power plants were having less than 25 per cent of their usual reserve, and States were being forced to buy power as high as Rs 12 per mw.

Mr Vallabh said that the Ministries of Power, Coal and Railways should sit together and find a solution to the current crisis. 

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said that the Modi government should stop running the “bulldozer of hatred” and start running power plants instead.

“I am saying again – this crisis will destroy small industries, due to which unemployment will increase further. Small children cannot stand this scorching heat. The lives of patients admitted in hospitals are at stake. There will be financial loss by stopping rail, metro services,” Mr Gandhi said in a Facebook post. 

The Delhi government also flagged an “acute shortage” of coal, claiming that many power plants were left with only one day stock and warned of supply disruptions to the national capital. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the situation was somehow being handled.

In reply to the Delhi government’s claims of shortage of coal at its plants, NTPC said in a tweet that currently Unchahar and Dadri power stations, supplying power to the national capital, were running at full capacity and receiving “regular” coal supplies. 

The Opposition leaders added that the main reason for “huge shortage” of coal was the lack of adequate number of rakes. The number of railway rakes had been reduced from 450 to 405 instead of being increased. They also claimed that power plants, including Dadri and Unchahar, had only one-day coal stock that usually should be there for 21 days.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that it was the job of the Centre to provide coal to the States. “Will the directionless State BJP leadership ask the Centre why it is not able to provide coal in accordance with the demand, due to which there has been a crisis in 16 States,” he asked. 

Kerala Electricity Minister K Krishnankutty said that the nationwide shortage of coal was the reason for the present crisis.

The All India Power Engineers’ Federation (AIPEF) claimed that lack of coordination among Ministries of Coal, Railways and Power was responsible for coal shortage, which had caused power outages. 

BJP-ruled Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar called on Union Power Minister R K Singh and discussed measures required for uninterrupted supply of electricity in the State.

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