It’s like we are in an ICU: Andhra Energy Secretary
B Sreedhar says that boom in economic activity has led to power crisis across India.
VIJAYAWADA: Andhra Pradesh is not the only State facing power crisis, Energy Secretary B Sreedhar told Express, explaining that the coal crisis coupled with an increase in demand for power supply due to the boom in the economic activity - following the drop in Covid cases - has resulted in the crisis.
In an exclusive interview, the Energy Secretary said, “As a solution to the crisis in the power sector, the Government of India had directed the States to import coal. An advisory was issued to States to import coal equivalent to 4% of power consumption. Now, this has been revised to 10%.” Stating that India’s power demand is approximately 190 GW and is likely to go up to 220 GW, Sreedhar observed that importing coal is the only solution to run thermal power plants.
Pointing out that the high price of imported coal and shipping vessels will lead to rise in unit cost of power produced, the Energy Secretary said, “Despite this, the Centre has issued the advisory.” Asked if this will have an impact on power tariff, he asserted that there is no other way. “You need coal if you want to run the plants and supply power to the consumer,” he said.
Describing the situation as similar to being in an ICU, Sreedhar explained the severity and said Discoms and private thermal power producers were advised to import 10% of coal and keep it in reserve in view of the coal crisis and increasing demand. As per the Central Electricity Authority’s directions, too, State power generating stations were supposed to maintain coal sufficient for 21 days during summer. “But today, we have coal sufficient for only two days. It is very critical... as if we are in an ICU,” Sreedhar added.
Dismissing the opposition’s claim that the State government lacked foresight which led to the power crisis, the Energy Secretary said it is not a slack of foresight. Every summer, there is a power issue. But this summer, the coal crisis has exacerbated it.
“Coal being a restricted commodity and controlled by Coal India, we cannot get it. The situation is similar throughout the country, not just in Andhra Pradesh. The States that have coal mines, or are nearer to them, are better off. But our State is at a disadvantage as we do not have any coal mines,” he said.
Refuting allegations that AP has become a power deficit State from power surplus in 2016-17, Sreedhar said, “It is as good as it was in 2016-17. In fact, we have increased the installed capacity of power generation. In the power sector, demand varies every season.”
Stating that CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy was against imposing power cuts, he said, “By the end of April, harvesting will commence and so, the government does not want to cause any power problems to farmers. Invariably, we have to impose power cuts on someone.”