The government of the state of Karnataka has been facing ‘problems’ in almost every sphere from potholes on roads, to pollution of lakes and now a new problem has cropped up which will affect the functioning of the thermal power stations across the state. A condition of ’emergency’ has arisen in Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) to which the state government has instructed the power corporation to transport coal from western coal fields (WCL) and transfer to the thermal power plants in the state. In a shocking revelation KPCL officials said that the current stock of coal that is available will last only for half a day. Commenting on the ever-increasing demand of coal by the state as against the appalling levels of coal at the state’s disposal, the state’s energy minister DK Shivakumar said, “We have stock of coal for our thermal power plants which would last for half a day. Thanks to the rain gods, the state will able to manage the load for the coming month of November. But December onwards, it will be difficult period to tide over.”

Due to the coal scam and the developments and controversies regarding coal shortage, Shivakumar said that in order to prevent a crisis the department has allowed the KPCL to be exempt from the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement (KTPP) act to transport coal from wherever required. “We are primarily looking at the WCL, from where we need to transport coal to our Raichur thermal power supply (RTPS) plant,” said the minister. The recent power crisis has arisen because the WCL was unable to cater to the increasing existing demand for coal, as reported by power department officials. What has worsened the issue of shortage of coal is the fact that 6 coal blocks have been locked-in due to the legal disputes over the penalty and levy on the KPCL-owned coal blocks.

The minister brushed aside allegations by the Bharatiya Janata Party that the state government received kickbacks for paying the penalty towards the mining of coal. “These six coal blocks have remained unused since March 2015, thereby causing a loss of Rs 1,500 crore in the last 30 months to the state exchequer and also creating a scenario of coal shortage,” said Shivakumar. Sources revealed that the WCL coal linkage has been given to RTPS, along with the Mahanadhi coal fields and Singerini coal fields.

In September chief minister Siddaramaiah and energy minister DK Shivakumar met the then power minister Piyush Goel and tried to get an assurance that Karnataka gets special consideration. As per current requirements Karnataka needs at least eight rakes of coal each day, but are managing with only five rakes at present. “Accordingly, WCL has provided us with special consideration of 1.5 lakh MT of coal each month for the next two months. For this, transportation is of utmost urgency for bringing the coal from the mines to the railway line link to RTPS. This is now ensured with the KTPP exemption,” said DK Shivakumar.

The BJP some time back accused the Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and power minister DK Shivakumar of being involved in a “mega scam” of about Rs 447 crore relating to the state-owned Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL), a charge that the Congress had called ‘baseless’.