CESC unable to meet 1,500 Mw demand; power cuts continue
Railway minister Mamata Banerjee may be lining up sops for West Bengal budget after budget, but the Railways is seemingly falling short of providing basic logistical services.
A shortage of rakes has ensured that many units of the state-owned power utility, West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited (WBPDCL), have been left wanting for coal and are currently without sizeable stockpiles of the fuel, thereby affecting generation capacities.
As a result, Kolkata's power distributor CESC — which sources a chunk of its daily requirement from WBPDCL — has been struggling to bridge its shortfall and sections of its consumers have been forced to contend with power cuts recently.
While CESC generates about 1,150 Mw, the power demand in the city is in the range of 1,500 MW. “We meet the gap through imports but currently, there is nowhere we can import this power from,” a CESC spokesperson explained.
Sources at WBPDCL said that the situation at some of its generation units was grim as coal stockpiles, which has been utilised to meet high generation demand, had not been adequately replenished due to paucity of rakes.
In particular, three power plants — Bakreswar, Bandel and Sagardighi — are dealing with dwindling fuel inventories. While Bakreswar has a total installed capacity of 1,050 Mw, those of Bandel and Sagardighi stand at 530 Mw and 600 MW respectively.
On February 2, 2010, as per data available on the WBPDCL website, generation figures for Bakreswar, Bandel and Sagardighi power plants were 776 Mw, 265 Mw and 233 Mw respectively.
“Due to the problem with rake movement from mines, such as those under MCL (Mahanadi Coalfields Limited), we have not been able to build our stockpiles. But we are making an all-out effort to improve the situation,” a WBPDCL official said.
Coal India Limited, of which MCL is a subsidiary, corroborated the power generators' position. “There is definitely a shortage of rakes at MCL. We are in constant touch with the Railway Ministry and the Ministry of Power to resolve the situation,” an official said.