Delhi warns of looming power 'crisis' as coal shortages bite

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Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned of a looming power crisis as coal reserves run low (AFP/NARINDER NANU)
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New Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned of a looming power crisis in the Indian capital, saying on Saturday that some of the major coal-fired stations supplying the city barely have a day's stock left.

Several states in eastern and southern India have been hit by supply shortages, with utility providers resorting to unscheduled power cuts.

The shortage in India, the world's second-largest coal-consuming country, follows widespread power outages in China that have shut factories and badly hit production and global supply chains.

"Delhi could face a power crisis," Kejriwal said, adding the megacity has been struggling with energy supplies for the past three months.

"I am personally keeping a close watch over the situation. We are trying our best to avoid it," Kejriwal said on Twitter.

Kejriwal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately resolve the crisis, saying any major interruption would affect hospitals and disrupt vaccinations against the coronavirus for Delhi's 20 million people.

India's coal-fired power stations had an average of four days' stock at the end of September, the lowest in years.

More than half the plants are on alert for outages and the government is mulling bringing idled power stations back into operation.

Coal accounts for nearly 70 percent of India's electricity generation and around three-quarters of the fossil fuel is mined domestically.

As Asia's third-largest economy rebounds following a coronavirus wave, monsoon rains have flooded coal mines and disrupted transport networks, leading to a sharp rise in prices for coal buyers, including power stations.

International coal prices have also soared.

State-run giant Coal India, which produces most of the country's supply, has said it is on a "war footing" to ensure adequate deliveries.

India's long festival season, currently underway, has also added to the surge in demand for power.

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