Mumbai: Short supply of rakes to haul coal from coal mines to thermal power plants in Maharashtra by railways ministry has plunged large parts of the state into unexpected darkness.

Speaking to reporters in the city on Friday, director MSEB (Maharashtra State Electricity Board) Holding Co. Ltd, Vishwas Pathak admitted that the railways is currently making available 20 to 22 rakes for hauling coal as against requirement of 32 rakes.

“Despite the state power generation utility MahaNirmiti having the capacity to generate power, the state is facing shortage of 2,000 MW of power daily due to lack of availability of coal," he said.

In a major relief to power consumers in Mulund, Bhandup area and parts of Thane and Raigad districts the state power supply utility MahaVitaran has withdrawn power cuts in A and B category power feeders. He added that the state has the capacity to produce power equal to the installed power generation capacity. However, the state has been unable to do so due to non-availability of the raw material (coal).

Pathak further said that the state has been buying 1,200 MW of power from the Central Power Grid to overcome the current shortfall. Out of this 500 MW of power is priced at over Rs4 per unit and is also buying power from private power producers like Adani and JSW.

Pathak said out of the total power generation, the state reserves 40% of its power for agricultural use and 20% of power for industries, railways and hospitals. The load shedding is applicable to remaining 40% of the economic sector where the losses and recovery of dues is higher, he said.

The 8 to 10 hours load shedding (power cuts) imposed in large parts of the state since 5 October evoked sharp reactions from the people already reeling under severe October heat. The state power utility MahaVitaran resorted to power cuts in urban areas of Mumbai Eastern Suburbs, Thane, Navi, Mumbai, Nashik and Pune. However, now the state power utility citing reasons that the power cuts are being withdrawn as there is less of power theft and less incidences of people not paying up their electricity bills.

Meanwhile, leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said that the state government has failed to take the issue of load shedding seriously and that the NCP will resort to protests against the issue.

“The government has failed to tackle the issue and thus people are having to face heat in the hot month of October. Previously, only rural villages were victims of load shedding but now places like Mumbai, Pune, Thane too. Is this how the government bridging the gap between rural and urban Maharashtra?" he questioned. “The NCP will stage protests against this load shedding," he added.

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