New Delhi: India, the second largest importer of coal after China, is finding it hard to feed its 135 coal powered electricity producing units, although India has ramped up the production of coal mining.
Prof Gaurav Vallabh, national spokesperson of Congress, told The Sunday Guardian that coal problems are still not over and “it is going to affect the electricity prices we consume”.
India is also the second largest producer of coal after China and propels around 70% of its electricity from coal. Every year, there is a decrease in coal mining due to the monsoon season overtaking the coal mines with more rain-water making it difficult for miners to extract coal at the normal rate. Additionally, the dispatch of coal to the power plants also stagnates, which spurs power generating plants to pre-empt any shortage and pre-meditate the coal stockpile into more reserves, but this time it was different. The monsoon season extended beyond September (which usually begins at an onset of June and ends with August) which left the power plants looking for coal as their reserves had started drying; plus, the demand for coal in the international market has increased its prices manifold and if India had relied upon imports to tackle the coal deficit, the electricity prices would have gone up many times. Moreover, importing coal at short notice is almost impossible as the order has to be placed beforehand to acquire the designated quantity. Evaluating the impact of spike in coal prices and less availability of same, Prof Gaurav Vallabh said: “Coal problems are not yet over because the State Electricity Boards have purchased the electricity at Rs 5 to 6 more per unit from their normal rate; so ultimately, this Rs 5 to 6 burden will be transferred to the households.”
With coal problems being recent, petrol and diesel prices have already been surging above the Rs 100 mark across the country, making it hard for consumers to commute, and also inflating (increase in price) the prices of commodities to the extent where it has become hard for the middle class to live within their budget.
Taking a jibe at the government, Prof Vallabh said that the government has a different idea of growth: “For this government, GDPe is not the Gross Domestic Product Estimate, but rather it is Gas, Diesel, Petrol and Electricity, as these are the only things we have seen increasing.”