India Suffers Rolling Power Cuts Amid Coal Shortages: Report

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
October 11, 2021 Updated: October 11, 2021

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday warned of a power “crisis” in India’s capital due to coal shortages which have forced utility providers in neighboring areas to shut off electricity to preserve fuel.

States in northern, eastern, and southern India have already suffered electricity cuts due to a lack of coal, and are set to face further outages, according to an analysis of government data conducted by Reuters.

The coal shortage in India—the world’s largest coal consumer after China—follows widespread power outages in China, which has shut factories and schools to manage the crisis.

According to data from the federal grid operator, coal supplies for more than half of the country’s 135 coal-fired power plants will run out in less than three days. The plants supply roughly 70 percent of the country’s electricity.

“Delhi could face a power crisis,” Kejriwal said on Twitter on Saturday, noting in a letter to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India’s capital city has for the past three months been struggling with the shortages.

“I am personally keeping a close watch over the situation,” he wrote. “We are trying our best to avoid it. In the meanwhile, I wrote a letter to Hon’ble PM seeking his personal intervention.”

“If this situation continues unabated, it would severely impact the power supply situation in Delhi,” Kejriwal wrote to the prime minister, expressing concern over the potential impact on hospitals and COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

Energy supplies are under strain globally as prices surge and demand and supply chains are strained by the recovery of consumption following lockdowns to contain the pandemic.

India’s power shortfall in the first seven days of October was over 21 times the deficit in the same period last year, and more than four times that in 2019. India’s eastern states of Jharkhand and Bihar state, and north western Rajasthan were among the worst affected, an analysis of daily load despatch data from federal grid regulator POSOCO showed.

Industrial states, such as Gujarat and Haryana, and some parts of India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh, also faced more shortages than average this past week, the data showed.

The Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI), a metals industry lobby group, in an Oct. 6 letter to the top bureaucrat in the Ministry of Coal warned of plant closures and job losses.

The current fuel shortages have “created an immensely precarious situation for coal consumers, mainly for the aluminum and steel industry,” FIMI said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.