‘Climate change, coal shortage’: Behind J-K’s unprecedented power shortage

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While acute coal shortages are triggering power outages in many states of India as thermal plants continue to grapple with coal shortage, the early onset of summer “due to climate change” in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is cited as one of the reasons for the unprecedented crisis.

J-K, which usually peaked in demand in May, was hit by the intense heatwave in March this year thus increasing the electricity demand.

“Jammu and Kashmir is doing much better than many states when it comes to supplying electricity. The average power demand is 2400 MW and our supply is 2061 MW,” a chief engineer from the trading department, J-K UT told Kashmir News Agency. “We are ready to buy more power from the market but the supply at energy exchange is scarce due to increased demand nationwide and insufficient coal stocks at thermal plants. Around 100 of the 173 power plants are facing coal shortage and situation is expected to be normalized within a week.”

The Power Development Department (PDD), Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, is purchasing power from the energy exchange at 12 rupees per unit and supplying to the people at 3.5 rupees per unit to ensure maximum supply during the scorching summer and auspicious hours of Ramzan.

According to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data, March 2022 was the hottest in India’s 122-year-old recorded weather history. Similarly, April is turning out to be the hottest April in the last 50 years.

J-K Union Territory has gone for power cuts for the industries in the morning and evening, however, it has decided not to impose stricter industrial holidays which might have resulted in 50 percent reduced power supplies to 24×7 industrial units.

“At the moment we are witnessing 18-20 percent power cuts in Jammu and Kashmir against the demand while other states are witnessing 30-40 percent power cuts. People should know currently we are positioned well than many states and making all efforts to ensure that during Iftar and Sehri, people in the Kashmir division get uninterrupted power. Centre has recently rushed coals to thermal plants and we are hoping the situation to return normal as soon as surplus power is available with the energy exchanges in open market,” a PDD official said requesting anonymity.

All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) recently issued a statement saying that Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Jharkhand are among the states facing widespread power cuts due to coal scarcity.

“In the first half of April 2022, the domestic power demand hit a 38-year high for the month. While there was a 1.1 percent power shortage in October 2021, this shortfall shot up to 1.4 percent in April 2022,” AIPEF statement had said.

Due to power scarcity, Andhra Pradesh had declared an industrial holiday on 8 April while the Gujarat government had mandated industries to observe a holiday once a week.

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