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Acute coal shortage has impacted electricity generation in the state, and resulted in prolonged power cuts. If the supply situation does not improve, Mumbai may face this soon.

On Thursday, Mahagenco had a stock of coal that would last only four days, and officials feared that they would have to increase power outages if the coal supply was not resumed expeditiously. Power generation companies Reliance and Tata too are in a precarious state. According to sources in the government, in all 14 generation plants of various capacities were under tremendous duress.

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Problem in Mumbai too
"The entire thermal power generation in Maharashtra is in doldrums because of short supply of coal," said a top official in one of the electricity companies in Mumbai.

BEST does not generate power but it gets it from Tata Power which also generates and supplies to consumers in Mumbai. Reliance too generates and supplies power through its distribution company.

Mahagenco spokesperson Mahesh Aphale told mid-day on Thursday that the company had a stock of coal (5.20 lakh tonnes) that would last four days. If the generation does not improve at Mahagenco, expect eastern suburbs between Kanjur Marg and Mulund which are served by state distribution arm Mahavitaran, to face the eventuality. But some Mahavitaran officials said their company would impose power cuts in parts of Mumbai, Thane city and Navi Mumbai only if the problem goes beyond their control.

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Blame game
The state's distribution and generation companies are blaming each other for the situation.

The distribution officials said that the generation company did not plan coal requirements, while the generation company officers said that they could not plan because of wrong projections of supply needed.

CM Devendra Fadnavis and Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule have requested Union power and coal minister Piyush Goyal to expedite coal supply to the state's public and private generation companies.

Mahavitaran officers said that the shortfall was met by buying power from sources other than the companies they have long-term purchase agreements with. However, Mumbai's companies which deal in both electricity production and distribution did not offer any explanation for the current crisis.

15,000mw
Maharashtra's (excluding Mumbai) requirement of electricity every day

Serious problem ahead
While generation companies are likely to overcome coal shortage, a major problem is expected to put them in more trouble in months to come when they face water shortage. Projections show that Vidarbha region where state's 80 pc coal-fired thermal generation takes place, will have acute water shortage as the summer approaches. Currently, the state, excluding Mumbai, needs close to 15,000 mega watts of electricity daily. Mumbai's requirement is between 2,600 and 3,000MW. Vidarbha hasn't received good rainfall this year.