India on Friday canceled some passenger trains to allow faster movement of cargo trains carrying coal amid depleting coal reserves at power plants prompting fears of a looming power crisis.
The demand for coal is being driven by an increased requirement of electricity as the summer sets-in in India. Coal is used in generating around 70 per cent of India’s electricity needs.
Several parts of the country are witnessing blackouts with electricity supply affected, while industries are cutting on output due to shortage of coal. It is likely to have a negative impact on the country’s economic revival from the slump due to the pandemic.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict has also impacted the situation with the Indian government unable to import fossil fuels with rise in prices globally.
However, the move is a temporary one, assured an executive director at Indian Railways, Gaurav Krishna Bansal, saying that passenger services will resume as soon as the situation normalizes.
The Indian Railways remains the preferred choice to coal transport, even as the carrier comes under fire for late deliveries and disruptions in supply.
Notably, the railways plan to add another 1,00,000 wagons to meet the growing demand, while construction of dedicated freight corridors for faster delivery is already underway.
Coal reserves at India’s power plants dipped by almost 17 per cent since the start of the month and are at a third of required levels. Blackouts were triggered when a sudden plunge in coal reserves to an average of four days came in autumn last year.