Punjab’s Power Crisis: A Major Jolt for New Bhagwant Mann-led AAP Government

With the sudden spurt in temperatures coupled with increased coal prices, Punjab is staring yet again at a severe power crisis, which will pose a major challenge to the newly installed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the state.

As thermal power plants contribute majorly to Punjab’s power supply, the unprecedented increase in prices of coal needed to fuel these plants has led to a jump in the cost of production. The state power companies are now contemplating power cuts or shutdown to tide over the looming crisis.

The power situation has alarmed the farmers, with the paddy season beginning from June. The AAP government will have to ensure regular supply to farmers during June and July.

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Officials said that a unit of GvK Power at Goindwal Sahib and another of Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Power Plant at Ropar have shut down. Also, two units of Talwandi Sabo Power Limited are reportedly running on lower capacity due to coal shortage. The coal linkage to private power plants is reportedly less than their installed power production capacity.

To make matters worse, the state is not getting its share of 475 Megawatt from Coastal Gujarat Power Limited Tata Mundra Plant, which has stopped supplying power to the state. Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) officers said against an agreement to sell power to Punjab at Rs 2.90 per unit, they are demanding Rs 5.50-6 per unit, asking the state to share the increase in the cost of imported coal.

As power demand in the state rises by an average of 1000 MW over the corresponding period last year because of the early onset of summer, PSPCL is struggling hard to meet the demand. Over the past fortnight, the daily power demand in Punjab varied between 7,395 MW and 8,490 MW.

Even the rate of power available for sale on the power exchange has gone up by over 400%.

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