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Coal stocks at over 136 power plants in the country improved to 18.95 million tonne (MT) in November this year as compared to the previous two months, Parliament was informed on Thursday.

Stock of coal at these plants was 10.37 MT in September and 8.07 MT in October.

Northern states of Haryana and Punjab have suffered electricity cuts after a directive to stop operating six of the 11 coal-fired power plants around national capital New Delhi in a bid to reduce pollution, government officials told Reuters.

Haryana reported shortages of up to 1.4% of average consumption in November and Punjab's supply fell short of average consumption by up to 4.4%, according to Reuters calculations based on the figures mentioned in the letter.

"As on 26th November 2021, the total coal stocks available with 136 linkage-based power plants monitored on a daily basis in Central Electricity Authority (CEA) was 18.958 MT, which is sufficient to run these plants for an average of 9.5 days," Power Minister R K Singh said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

"The details of average daily coal stocks in these power plants during the months of September 2021 and October 2021 were 10.34 MT and 8.07 MT, respectively," he informed the House.

The government has taken various steps for maintenance of adequate coal stocks with power plants, the minister said.

An Inter-Ministerial Sub Group comprising representatives from Ministries of Power, Coal, Railways, and CEA, Coal India Ltd /Singareni Collieries Company Ltd meets regularly to take operational decisions to enhance supply of coal to thermal power plants as well as for meeting any contingent situations relating to the power sector including critical coal stock position in the plants, Singh stated.

Ministry of Power (MoP) has also constituted a Core Management Team (CMT) with members from MoP, Railways, CEA, CIL, NTPC, DVC and POSOCO to ensure close monitoring of coal stocks at thermal power plants and operational decisions are being taken in CMT to augment supply of sufficient quantity of coal to the plants.

Further, based on the decision of the government, CIL has offered about 5.2 MT additional coal from its various subsidiaries to state/central gencos for lifting through Rail Cum Road (RCR)/ Road mode, he stated.

Recently, an Inter-Ministerial Committee comprising Secretary (Coal), Secretary (Power), Secretary (MoEF&CC) and Chairman, Railway Board has been set up to finalise the demand in advance, review the situation and take corrective action with regard to ensuring adequate coal supply to power plants in the country.

Revised coal stocking norms have been mandated by CEA mandating the coal stock of 17 days at pit head stations and 26 days at non-pit head stations to be maintained by power plants from February to June every year, he said.

Many Indian states including Punjab suffered electricity cuts in October because of a lack of coal.

Coal is India's dominant source of electricity generation, accounting for over 70% of annual power output. The country told global leaders during recent climate talks in Glasgow that it would continue to use the cheap fuel, but gradually reduce dependence on it.

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