Power generation drops by 1,000 MW

Drought compounds problems created by irregular supply of coal and gas by Centre.

Shortage of gas, coal and water has taken a toll on power generation in Maharashtra. CM Prithviraj Chavan is likely to discuss the matter with Union power minister Jyotiraditya Scindia. Ministry of power statistics show an average drop of 1,000 MW in production.

Jayakwadi dam in Marathwada, the primary source of sustained water supply to Parli power plant, has almost dried up.

Officials in the ministry of power admitted, "Supply has become erratic with generation declining by almost 450 MW."

The state government has said it will rotate water to keep the power plant running, but the fear is the situation may worsen from March. The tussle between the districts of Marathwada and Ahmednagar over Jayakwadi water is likely to adversely impact power generation at Parli.

A senior Congress cabinet minister said, "Water for drinking or for power generation is the dilemma.

"If we allow generous water release from Ahmednagar quota to Marathwada for sustained power generation, there will be crisis of drinking water in our districts."

State minister for power Ajit Pawar has a backup plan of power purchase from other states. But the cost will be Rs 4.5 to Rs 7 per unit.

The state government may not want to spend that much money as the cost will be ultimately passed to consumers.

Sources in the ministry said, "The situation is not conducive to burden people with higher power bills." Unsustainable coal and gas supply by the Centre, the state government indicated, was creating problems.

The state department estimated a shortfall of 1,500 MW at coal-based power plants. Power generation based on coal has come down to 5,500 MW from 7,000 MW.

The state also blamed central policies that do not encourage coal purchase from abroad.

"The provisions under consideration by the state government to tap coal resources outside India had to be kept in abeyance following criticism by opposition parties and non-cooperation by the Centre," a secretary in the finance and planning department said.

Efforts to make Dhabol power plant work to full capacity have also failed. As against the expected 1,900 MW, the plant is generating 300 MW power.

In the gas-based sector, too, things are not moving at the set pace. Sources said, "In Uran, the output is not exceeding 250 to 300 MW. The estimate was to tap 700 to 750 MW."

State to cut plan size by 20 per cent

With the Centre not helping, the state government decided Monday to cut its Rs 45,000-crore plan expenditure by 20% to divert money for drought relief.

The decision was taken at a sub-committee meeting of the finance and planning department attended by CM Prithviraj Chavan and deputy CM Ajit Pawar.

It will, however, not be made official before the budget session that begins on March 11. The state budget will be presented on March 26.

A senior cabinet minister confirmed, "We have decided to cut the plan size by 20%."

Chavan and Pawar said the measure was necessary as money released by the Centre Rs 778 crore was too little to tackle drought. CM proposed a relief of Rs 2,500 crore.

The cut will impact almost all crucial departments, including ministries of rural development, urban development and social justice.

Chavan said the situation would be reviewed next week to prioritise spend. He wants to ensure financial constrains don't hamper infrastructure development.

The squeeze

Drought has adversely affected power plants already hit by irregular supply of coal and gas

Pressure is mounting on the government to cut water supply to the plants

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