Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
Like October last year, people of the country are likely to face a power crisis and pay heavily for electricity in the coming months. Many states have already begun daily power cuts of a few hours. Like last year power distribution companies (discoms) would be forced to buy power at exorbitant prices from private generators to make up for the shortfall.
In the first fortnight of April, the power shortfall in the country shot up to 1.4% of the demand compared to the shortfall of 1.1% in October 2021. Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Jharkhand and Haryana are facing power cuts ranging from 3% to 8.7% of their total demand, it is reported.
All India Power Engineers Federation Chairman, Shri Shailendra Dubey has asked the central and state governments to take immediate steps to supply coal to thermal power plants where stocks have come down to dangerously low levels. He informed that only eight days’ coal was left in thermal power stations in 12 states.
Power shortfall is expected to increase in coming the weeks and months as temperatures across the country rise and power demand further increases.
The central government has asked the state-owned generating plants to import more coal but price of imported coal has shot up by nearly four times during the last few months. Electricity rates will shoot up if such expensive coal is used. Moreover, state owned power companies do not have the financial capacity to buy such expensive coal.
Finances of state-owned power companies have been badly affected by the non-payment of dues by the state governments to their power companies. Dues of over Rs 2 lakh crore are owed by state governments to their own discoms. These dues include unpaid electricity bills by government departments and entities, and subsidy amounts yet to be released to the discoms.
According to Shri Shailendra Dubey, non-payment of dues by states has created a vicious cycle, where discoms, too, are unable to pay power generators (gencos) on time and many gencos default in payment for coal supplied to them by Coal India.
Shri Dubey warned of an impending energy crisis in 12 states due to depleting coal inventory of gencos and discoms’ inability to pay for high-cost power on exchanges or from alternate fuels such as gas.
Both central and state governments have failed to take the necessary steps in advance to avert a power crisis when they knew that power demand will rise in summer and coal supply and stocks needed to be increased. People will be forced to pay for their failure.