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Coal Crisis in India



  • GS 3: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.



  • The thermal power plants are facing significant coal shortage as 135 thermal power plants in the country had only an average of about 4 days coal stocks left.


Coal Crisis in India_3.1


Coal shortage

  • On October 1, Ministry of Power has alarmed that 135 thermal power plants in the country had only an average of about 4 days coal stocks left
  • On October 4, 16 thermal power plants had zero days of coal stock.
  • More than half of the country’s 135 coal-fired power plants are running on fumes.
  • 70% of our electricity is generated using coal, so, it is a major cause for concern.


Agenda Document for 2021- 22


Coal Shortage in India:  Reasons

  • Increased demand: The economy recovers from the Covid-19 has witnessed shard increase in power demand.
    • In the last two months, power consumption jumped by almost 17%, compared to the same period in 2019.
    • Increased electrification of hinterlands through schemes like SAUBHAGYA is also leading to increased power consumption.
  • Increase in global prices: The global coal prices has increased by 40% and this has resulted in fall in India’s coal imports.
  • Supply issues: Decrease in imports led to increase in further pressure on the already strained domestic supply.
  • Errant rainfall: Heavy rains in the month of September in the coal-mining areas has hit production and delivery of coal.
    • It has led to plant failure to stock the coal pre-monsoon.


WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines 2021


Coal Shortage in India 2021: Impacts

  • Delay in economic recovery: If industries faces power failure, economic recovery could take a hit.
  • Increased unemployment: Some businesses might choose to downscale production which could lead to lay-off of the workers.
  • Rise in inflation: Increased price of coal from imports would mean that businesses would pass on these costs to consumers, leading to increase in inflation.
  • Stress the manufacturing sector: Electricity powers everything, so the entire manufacturing sector- cement, steel, construction – everything gets impacted once there is a coal shortage.


India’s Zombie Threat


Government steps to reduce coal price in India

  • An inter-ministerial team is monitoring the supply of coal to thermal power plants.
  • The government is pressing thermal plants with captive coal mines to boost their coal output so that they can meet more of their own demand.
  • The Government is also prioritising coal supplies for thermal power plants with low levels of stock.
  • The Power Ministry is also trying to increase the supply of coal by expediting the start of production from a number of mines that have required clearances.
  • The government has also boosted the number of rakes of coal being transported to thermal power plants daily.



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