Millennium Post

Power dept to import coal to tackle crisis

Kolkata: The state Power department is leaving no stone unturned to overcome the nationwide coal crisis that has also hit the state badly. Power generation has dipped over coal availability issues and with the festival season round the corner, the state is now looking at importing coal to tide over the crisis.
"We have made all arrangements to ensure that the Kali Puja passes off without any hassle. The demand on the day of Kali Puja is pegged at around 6,000 MW. But after the Kali Puja, the power situation may take a bad turn. The daily demand of power in the state is 4,000 MW daily. But now, the generation is
hovering around 2,000 MW a day. We are holding daily meetings and exploring all means to address the situation," a senior official of the Power
department said. The Chhat Puja and the Jagadhatri Puja will follow soon.
Chief secretary Malay De chaired a high-level meeting at Nabanna on Tuesday with Coal India, ECL, Railways and other concerned officials urging them to chip in to tackle the situation. "They have assured of all co-operation," a senior Power department official who was present in the meeting said.
The cost of importing power from exchange agencies is also a tough ask owing to the fact that when there is availability, the import cost that is around Rs 3 per unit has now gone up to nearly Rs 10 per unit. "We are in constant touch and cultivating our own personal sources to import coal to tackle the crisis. Dependence on coal for power is as much as 90 percent in Bengal and also in most states in the country," the official said.
"The state government has five collieries around the Raniganj belt including one in bordering Jharkhand and the centre has not given the nod to four of them so that procurement can be commenced. Coal can be procured from the block at Borjora after two months," the official added.
The Power department officials are, however, hopeful that the power demand may dip with the weather office predicting rain on the day of Kali Puja.
In a bid to tackle this sort of crisis, the state is switching over to solar power at a fast pace. "When I took over as the minister in 2016, the solar power generation was 2 MW. It has now gone up to 30 MW. In the next one year, it will go up to 150 MW with a large number of state institutions getting solar grids. Solar installation takes time and cannot be done overnight," state Power minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay said.
The solar hydro power project at Purulia with funds from JICA will generate 1,000 MW. "However it will take another five years," the minister said.
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