Coal, which seemed like an outdated fossil fuel not too long ago, is suddenly becoming a crucial global commodity. Its prices have witnessed a remarkable rally over the past few months and have surged to a record high. And many parts of the world like China are suffering under a serious coal crisis which has led to power outages, blackouts in cities and a total shutdown of industries. Meanwhile, in India, there is no real shortage of coal and, also there is no power crisis as such in the country. Yet, there are considerations of a coal shortage crisis. The speculations were fuelled by parts of international media that are traditionally biased towards China, in what seems to be an attempt to hide Beijing’s embarrassment. Within India, the political opposition is looking to criticise the Central government with allegations of a power crisis.
Union Power Minister and Ministry of Coal set the record straight:
Union power minister RK Singh said, “I’ve warned Tata Power CEO of action if they send baseless SMSs to customers that can create panic. Messages by GAIL and Tata Power qualify as acts of irresponsible behaviour.” Singh added that “neither there was, nor there is any crisis. It was created unnecessarily.”
Meanwhile, a Ministry of Coal press release stated, “The Ministry of Coal reassures that ample coal is available in the country to meet the demand of power plants. Any fear of disruption in power supply is entirely misplaced. The fuel stock at power plant end is about 72 Lakh tonnes, sufficient for 4 days requirement, and that the Coal India Limited (CIL) end is more than 400 Lakh tonnes, which is being supplied to the power plants.”
The Ministry added, “The domestic coal based power generation has grown by nearly 24% in this year (till September 2021) based on a robust supply from the coal companies. The daily average coal requirement at the power plants is about 18.5 Lakh tonnes of coal per day whereas the daily coal supply has been around 17.5 lakh tonnes per day. Due to extended monsoons the despatches were constrained. The coal available at the power plants is a rolling stock which gets replenished by the supplies from the coal companies on a daily basis. Therefore, any fear of coal stocks depleting at the power plant end is erroneous.”
What the political opposition is saying?
The Indian National Congress has tweeted that coal supplies are insufficient in India due to mismanagement by the Modi government, which has given rise to a situation of blackouts.
मोदी सरकार ने देश को अंधेरे के संकट में धकेल दिया है। मोदी सरकार के कुप्रबंधन के कारण देश में पर्याप्त कोयला नहीं बचा है।
मोदी सरकार के कुप्रबंधन ने देश में ब्लैक आउट की स्थिति उत्पन्न कर दी है। pic.twitter.com/RiZ848ONPU
— Congress (@INCIndia) October 11, 2021
However, hitting out at the Congress, the Union Power Minister alleged that “the Congress party has run out of ideas. They are running out of votes and therefore they are running out of ideas as well.”
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Delhi’s Power Minister Satyendra Jain said, “There is an acute shortage of coal in coal-fired power plants across the country. There is only one day’s stock left in the plants from which Delhi gets electricity, there is no coal at all.”
Delhi CM and AAP National Convener Arvind Kejriwal himself tweeted, “Delhi could face a power crisis. I am personally keeping a close watch over the situation. We are trying our best to avoid it. In the meanwhile, I wrote a letter to Hon’ble PM seeking his personal intervention.”
Delhi could face a power crisis. I am personally keeping a close watch over the situation. We are trying our best to avoid it. In the meanwhile, I wrote a letter to Hon’ble PM seeking his personal intervention. pic.twitter.com/v6Xm5aCUbm
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) October 9, 2021
Interestingly, AAP and Delhi government are alleging that there is a coal shortage and a looming power crisis in the country. However, only two years ago, AAP had tweeted, “We put a complete ban in the use of coal in Delhi. Delhi is the first modular state which has no COAL- based power plants.”
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) October 13, 2019
🔸Uttar Pradesh Govt
They're all saying there's a #CoalCrisis but Modi Govt isn't ready to accept.
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) October 10, 2021
Moreover, last year, Delhi Power Minister Satyendra Jain had written to Union power minister RK Singh, requesting shutting down all the eleven coal-fired thermal power plants within a radius of 300 km surrounding Delhi. In June, the Delhi government moved the Supreme Court and sought closure of 10 thermal power plants in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh over pollution concerns.
Already, the Power Minister has clarified the situation. The world is facing very high prices of the fossil fuel. On the other hand, India is a very big producer of the fossil fuel and should be able to sustain itself. Also, Australian coal waiting at China’s ports was diverted to India, which means that New Delhi was proactive.
At the end of the day, seeking a ban on coal-fired power plants on one hand and then complaining about the fossil fuel shortages on the other don’t end up making much sense.
Global media trying to defame India:
It is no secret that certain sections of international media don’t like India. Therefore, while China is in a really bad state with aluminium smelting, food processing units, textiles and all other industries getting shut down, apart from power outages in Chinese households, parts of international media are trying to defame India.
The Chinese economy is facing a serious downturn- manufacturing and exports have gone down, and the Chinese stock markets are also tumbling. Even China’s official records show that its Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) has dropped from 50.1 per cent to 49.6 per cent. Investors are looking at India while pulling out of China because, unlike China, India didn’t face any power outages. Nor does India have to deal with issues like jamming ports in China due to Coronavirus outbreaks.
Therefore, parts of international media sympathetic towards China have tried to club India with the Communist nation in terms of power outages, even though there is no substance in such speculations of a looming power crisis in India. This could have stopped the flow of international investments out of China and into India, but the Modi government has debunked such myths well in time.