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Looming coal shortage set to unplug power plants

<p>An unexpected rise in demand for thermal power triggered a fuel crisis in July 2017. It was initially attributed to a fall in hydel supplies and stronger growth in demand on the back of the rural electrification push.</p> <p>The demand surge caught CIL off-guard: the company was in the process of cutting down production due to sluggish demand for almost two years. Excessive production over the previous two years, when demand was flat, had led to a a multi-year-high pit-head stock of 68 million tonne (mt).</p> <p><br /> A surge in electricity demand growth and poor coal production by Coal India threaten to accentuate the fuel crisis. At a time when coal prices are on fire in the overseas market and imported fuel-based gencos are idling, Coal India&rsquo;s production, which normally peaks in the winter, has set alarm bells jangling. The coal production situation might snowball into a crisis.</p>