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The Imminent Coal Crisis of India

In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.

~ Albert Einstein

As India’s economy picked up after a deadly second wave of Covid-19, demand for power rose sharply. Power consumption in last two months alone jumped 17%, compared to the same period in 2019. 70% of the power is generated using coal, this is a major cause for concern as it threatens to derail India’s post-pandemic economic recovery. More than half of the country’s 135 thermal power plants are running on coal.    

India is the world’s second-largest importer of coal despite also being home to the fourth-largest coal reserves in the world. One of the reasons for lesser coal production is rainfall. Powerplants which used to rely on imports are now heavily dependent on Indian coal. Global coal prices increased by 40% and India’s imports fell to a two-year low. “With the current prices, it is difficult for India to rely on external sources for coal as it’s about two or three times more than what we pay domestically right now,” said Swati Dsouza, research head at National Foundation for India.

While we are facing this situation, we shouldn’t try to push ourselves more to gain more of coal, rather shall try to focus on how we can move away from coal and other fossil fuels. Also, we should push ourselves more towards green energy like hydropower plant, wind power plant, solar power plant, etc.

The time has arrived when our government should start working on to make proper green energy road map, because we cannot forget our fully dependence on coal countries like China which has a lot of restrictions imposed on the use of coal trade which is resulting into lots of households drowning in darkness. Some states of India like Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat raised their concerns over blackouts. If these coal crises continue, consumers will start feeling the heat of the surge in electricity cost. As inflation is already high, everything from oil to food will become more expensive. Entire manufacturing sector- cement, steel, construction, etc everything will get impacted.

Monsoon is on its way out and winters are approaching, the demand for power usually falls in India.

What role can government play here?

The answer of how India can achieve a balance between meeting demand for electricity, it has been a major challenge for the recent years, it is also hoping to source coal from so-called “captive” mines. The overwhelming verdict from experts is that short-term fixes may help to get India through the current crisis but the country needs to work towards long-term alternatives. “It’s time to adopt green energy, and reduce its dependency on coal which leads to carbon emission”.

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