Hours after the Centre’s assurance that it has “sufficient” stocks to meet power sector demand, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has accused it of turning a blind eye to the crisis at hand. Mr Sisodia, drawing a parallel between the coal crisis and the oxygen shortage during the COVID-19 second wave peak in April-May this year, said, “When we had an oxygen crisis, they kept saying there was no such crisis.”
“The coal situation is similar. We have a crisis today,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Union Power Minister RK Singh said “a panic has been unnecessarily created about coal shortage”, adding the situation will be handled in the next few days. Mr Singh also said that “sufficient power is available”.
Mr Sisodia termed the Union Minister’s statement “irresponsible”, at a time when “Chief Ministers across the country have been warning the Centre” about the impending blackouts due to coal stock situation.
Several states, including Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi and Tamil Nadu, have been raising concerns over blackouts. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in a letter, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to intervene so that coal and gas can be diverted to generating plants which supply electricity to the national capital.
“Chief Ministers across the country have been warning the Centre about the crisis. In the middle of all this, the Union Power Minister in a press conference today dismissed the apprehension of a crisis, saying that the Chief Minister of Delhi should not have written a letter,” said Mr Sisodia.
A crippling coal shortage has also caused a supply shortage in states such as Bihar, Rajasthan and Jharkhand, with residents in the regions experiencing power cuts stretching to up to 14 hours a day.
The government, meanwhile, has listed four reasons for the depletion of coal stocks at power plants — the unprecedented increase in demand for electricity due to revival of the economy, heavy rains in coal mine areas, increase in the price of imported coal and legacy issues such as heavy dues of coal companies in certain states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.