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Most of the thermal power plants (tpps) in the country are facing an acute shortage of non-coking power grade coal. According to industry sources, since electricity was a major issue in the just-concluded general election, the plants had to step up production to ensure uninterrupted power supply in the run-up to the polls.
Of the 75 tpps, 32 have been placed in the critical list. Their coal stock has depleted to less than a week's requirement, said B M Nag, chairperson of Mahanadi Coalfield Limited, a subsidiary of public sector undertaking Coal India Limited (cil). Most tpps facing a raw material crunch are located in central and north Indian states such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi. Of the 304 million tonnes of coal produced by cil in 2003-2004, thermal and captive power plants together consumed about 90 per cent of the output.
The demand for coal in 2003-2004 was 10-15 per cent higher than that of the previous year. The crisis has also dried up coal supply to other industries like cement, sponge iron and paper.