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Power shortage | Long-term solutions needed to prevent a repeat of coal crisis, says Anil Swarup

Former coal secretary Anil Swarup says the government will find a way out of the present situation but it needs to plan for a 'long-term solution that would necessarily entail helping Coal India increase production'

April 30, 2022 / 03:43 PM IST
Representative image (AFP)

Representative image (AFP)

The coal crisis will recur if long-term solutions such as increasing Coal India’s production are not found, former coal secretary Anil Swarup said on April 30 as power shortage plagues large parts of the country.

“Coal is on fire again and will keep catching fire if long-term solutions are not found. We missed the bus in 2017, messing up big time. We wake up only when we have a crisis. Present issues will be managed but the long-term solution lies in helping Coal India increase production,” Swarup tweeted on April 30.

Moneycontrol has been writing extensively as it seeks to dive deep into India’s power crisis as demand for electricity has soared but coal supply has failed to keep pace. Moneycontrol’s special series Power Shock aims to analyse the complexities of the power sector, its challenges and offer solutions.

Also read: It’s not a power crisis or a coal crisis. It’s a payment crisis!

Swarup said Coal India Limited had reserves of over Rs 40,000 crore in 2015 but was. “now, around Rs 10,000 crore”. It was trading at Rs 400 in 2016 but had slipped Rs 200 now. Coal India “was kept without regular CMD for a year…,” he tweeted.

He said there was no doubt about the competence of power, new and renewable Energy minister RK Singh, coal and mines minister Pralhad Joshi, and railways, communications and electronics and information technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, to tide over the current coal and power crisis, the former civil servant said they would need to plan for a “long term solution that would necessarily entail helping Coal India increase production”.

Swarup then went on to point to the primary constraints in coal production.  “Land acquisition, Environment and Forest clearances, Evacuation. The first two were tackled effectively during 2014-16 by engaging with the states intensively. The ongoing ‘war’ between the Centre and the states will not help. Engage with the states,” he said in a Twitter thread

He also pointed out that the coal crisis of 2014 could be tackled due to the record production of coal in 2015 and 2016. “What went wrong thereafter? Why did the same Coal India flounder? Why did its production stagnate around 600 MT during 18-19, 19-20 & 20-21? In answers to these questions lies the solution,” Swarup said.

India’s energy demand grew as much as 8.9 percent in March, driven by a pick-up in industrial activity and high demand from farmers and households amid rising temperatures. It touched an all-time high of over 201 gigawatts (GW) on April 26 as the summer started early this year. The government expects demand to reach 215-220 GW in May-June.

Moneycontrol News
first published: Apr 30, 2022 03:42 pm