New Delhi: It's summers in most parts of India and demand for power is at a peak of 2,17,000 megawatt (MW). But the power generation is much less at 1,99,877 MW and poor transmission and distribution is making it worse.
Many cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai are facing long power cuts and 40 per cent of the country does not get electricity at all. About 6 lakh villages do not have any network to receive electricity. CNN-IBN has learned that 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 because of lack of environmental clearances and land acquisition problems. But coal shortage is not the only reason for the summer sweat.
"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," says MoS Power KC Venugopal.
Glitches in the electricity supply chain have made problems worse. Coal supply is not only short but expensive also for these power plants, the equipments at some power plants are old and faulty, transmission systems are too old to take the required load and distribution bottlenecks are equally stifling. This requires huge network of cables, conductors and transformers. Change in power tariffs is the need of this hour, power utilities are not putting more money in infrastructure development.
"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," says CEO BSES Yamuna Power Ltd Ramesh Narayanan.
The PMO's recent intervention pushing coal companies to sign supply agreements have 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 works on all levels of power generation to save the nation from a complete blackout soon.