Two days after a Delhi minister warned of a power blackout if the coal supply to power plants in the national capital didn't improve, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said the power situation is "very critical" in the entire country.
"The situation is very critical in the entire country. Several chief ministers have written to the Centre about it. All are trying together to improve the situation," he told the media today.
Several states, including Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi, Odisha and Tamil Nadu have been raising concerns over blackouts.
Mr Kejriwal said all efforts were being made to address the power crisis and his government did not want any "emergency situation" to arise.
Earlier in the day, Delhi's Power Minister Satyendra Jain claimed that the state government has to depend on costly gas-based power and spot purchase at high market rate as the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has halved electricity supply to the city.
Countering the Delhi government's claims, sources at the Centre told news agency PTI that NTPC has adequate coal supplies to meet any power requirement in Delhi, and added that the discoms can schedule power from its Dadri Power plant.
The Ministry of Coal on Sunday had dismissed fears of disruption of power supply as "entirely misplaced".
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also met his cabinet colleagues in charge of the coal and power ministries today to discuss the issue of insufficient coal supply and power shortage.
Mr Jain claims most of the NTPC plants are running at 50-55 percent capacity as their coal stocks are reduced to meet one-two days need.
Delhi purchases most of its power from NTPC but supply has been halved, he told reporters.
NTPC supplies Delhi with 4,000 MW power.
Mr Jain further claimed that the Centre has terminated the quota of cheap gas. "We have to purchase it and the generation cost is Rs 17.50 which is not sustainable. Also, we have to resort to spot purchase of power due to the crisis at a high rate of Rs 20 per unit," said the power minister.
Mr Jain said the Centre should accept that coal crisis and address it instead of being in denial mode. He also drew a parallel between the coal crisis and the oxygen shortage during the COVID-19 second wave peak in April-May this year. "When we had an oxygen crisis, they kept saying there was no such crisis," he has said.
Earlier in the day, Union Power Minister RK Singh said "a panic has been unnecessarily created about coal shortage", adding the situation will be handled in the next few days. Mr Singh also said that "sufficient power is available".
Sources at the Centre told PTI that there was ample rolling coal stock available, which means coal was being replenished every day.
Mr Jain termed the union minister's statement "irresponsible". "Chief ministers of many states, including Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh, have written to the Centre on the issue. Punjab is also facing power cuts," he said.
"If there is no power crisis, then why has Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath written a letter to the central government. There is a power crisis in the country; the central government should consider it as a problem, then only its solution can be found," he said.