Coal shortage: Former coal secretary explains where the real problem is


Coal shortage: The current power crisis is much beyond coal and it is the power sector that is collapsing, former coal secretary Anil Swarup said on Tuesday as the coal shortage begins to trouble the states.  

Swarup, who served as coal secretary from October 2014 to November 2016, also said that state-run Coal India Limited unfortunately has become the whipping boy in coal crisis. “The real problem is with a devastated power sector as UDAY failed,” he said.

The Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) was first launched by the Centre in November 2015 for operational and financial turnaround of State owned Power Distribution Companies (DISCOMs). The scheme aimed to reduce the interest burden, reduce the cost of power, reduce power losses in Distribution sector, and improve operational efficiency of DISCOMs.

In a series of tweets, Swarup said the crisis is much beyond coal. “It is the power sector that is collapsing as UDAY failed. DISCOMS owe > 50000 crore to Power Generating Cos. GENCOS owe > 20000 to Coal India. Coal India doesn’t have money for new mines,” he said. 

Hours later, Swarup revised the figure saying the problem is much more serious than what he had earlier presented and it reflected the deep malaise in the power sector. “The Distribution Companies (DISCOMS) owe Power Generating Companies NOT > 50,000 Cr but > 1,10,000. That is where the real problem is,” he said.

In another tweet, the former coal secretary said that the tragedy of the present coal crisis was that it was being reduced to a Centre vs State blame game. “Both are responsible & now, instead of blaming each other, sit across the table & work out a strategy that was done in a similar crisis in 2014. It can be done,” he said. 

“Coal India Limited unfortunately has become the whipping boy in coal crisis. The real problem is with a devastated power sector as UDAY failed. Are you aware: 1. Generation Companies owe around 20,000 cr to CIL. 2- Why didn’t these Gencos not maintain the 20 day coal stock?” Swarup added. 

Today, Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi said that as of now Coal India has around 22 days’ stock and supply will further go up as the monsoon is receding. He also said that the Centre was making full efforts to meet the coal demand of power producers. 

“The ministry and Coal India Ltd (CIL) are making full efforts to meet the coal demand… Yesterday (Monday), we supplied around 1.95 million tonnes (MT) of coal. Around 1.6 million tonnes from CIL and the remaining from Singareni Collieries Company Ltd. All put together, 1.95 MT we have supplied,” he said.



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