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Power crisis: India faces a shortage of 17,000 MW


Sonal Joshi,CNN-IBN
Jul 03, 2012 at 04:28pm IST

New Delhi: It's peak summer in most parts of India. Demand for power is at a peak of 2,17,000 mega watt. Our power generation, however, is much less at 1,99,877 mega watt. Poor transmission and distribution makes it even worse.

Many cities such as Chennai, Bangalore and the capital itself, Delhi, have long power cuts.

Forty per cent of the country does not get electricity at all. About six lakh villages do not have any network to receive electricity.

CNN-IBN has learnt that around 30 power stations have just about a week's coal left to fuel the power plants.

Coal India which supplies coal to 80 per cent of India's power plants has a shortage of 142 million tonnes. The reason they say is lack of enviornmental clearances and land acquisition problems. However, coal shortage is not the only reason for the summer sweat.

KC Venugopal, MoS Power, says, "It is not remarkable. It does not have much significance. Only about 1-1.5 per cent generation is impacted due to coal shortage. We are planning for huge capacity addition in future. AT&C losses (aggregate technical and commercial losses) are there. Lack of transmission lines... Southern India is not connected to rest of the national grids."

Glitches in the electricity supply chain have made problems worse. Coal supply is not only short but expensive too for these power plants. Equipment at some power plants are old and faulty. Transmission systems are too old to take the required load. Distribution bottlenecks are equally stifling. This requires huge network of cables, conductors and transformers. Change in power tariffs is the need of the hour, power utilities are not putting more money in infrastructure development.

Ramesh Narayanan, Chief Executive Officer of the BSES Yamuna Power Ltd, says, "The main problem for the shortage is there is a lag in the distribution infrastructure development. The distribution infrastructure in the whole country has not kept pace with a development on the generation side. Even if you may have electricity available from the generators but the power does not reach the end consumer because the infrastructure for distributing that power is not given."

PMO's recent intervention pushing coal companies to sign supply agreements has shown no significance. In fact, the government is piling on problems by overlooking the worsening financial health of power distribution companies which are a vital part of power supply chain. It's high time the government worked on all levels of power generation to save the nation from a complete blackout soon.

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