The Union Ministry of Power on Thursday said it has devised a multi-pronged strategy to ensure adequate availability of power during the upcoming summer months. The development comes days after the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said last week the period between March and May is going to be hotter than usual, with an enhanced probability of occurrence of the heatwave over many regions of Central and adjoining Northwest India. On March 7, RK Singh, the union minister of power chaired a review meeting with senior officers from the power sector, ministry of coal, and ministry of railways regarding the high electricity demand in April and May.

The  ministry said the power utilities have been directed to undertake maintenance for coal-based power plants in advance so that no planned maintenance is required during the crunch period. All imported coal plants in the country have also been directed to run at full capacity from March 16. Adequate coal stocks would be made available at the coal-based power plants, the ministry said.

To ensure uninterrupted electricity supply during the summer months, the railway ministry will provide 418 rakes to different subsidiaries of Coal India Limited (CIL), GSS, and captive blocks and also enhance the number of rakes in due course so that sufficient coal stock can be maintained at power plants.

Gas-based power would be used to meet any peak demand, the ministry said. The ministry has also directed NTPC to run its 5000 MW gas-based power stations during the crunch period in April-May. In addition, 4000 MW of additional gas-based power capacity would be added by other entities for availability during the summer months, according to the ministry

"GAIL has already assured the Ministry of Power of the necessary supply of gas during the summer months. All the hydro plants have been instructed to operate in consultation with RLDCs/ SLDCs (Regional/State Load Dispatch Centers) to optimize water utilisation in the current month for better availability during the next month," the power ministry said.

"An additional capacity of 2920 MW would be available through new coal-based plants which would be commissioned by the end of this month. In addition, after direction from the Ministry, two units at Barauni (2X110MW) will be made available during the crunch period," it added.

The Central Electricity Authority expects the peak electricity demand to be 229GW during April. When the electricity demand is highest in the country. "With GDP growing at close to 7%, the power demand has been growing in the country at close to 10% per annum. As per estimates, the energy demand is expected to be 1,42,097 MU during April’23, highest in the year 2023 before reducing to 1.41,464 MU in May’23 and further declining continuously to 1,17,049 MU during November," the power ministry said.

Amid the forecast of early heat waves in the coming months, the health ministry has also written to chief secretaries and administrators of all states and Union Territories to be prepared to address heat impact and management of cases arising out of it.

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