India's March electricity shortage worst since coal crisis in Oct

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Labourers work next to electricity pylons in Mumbai, India, October 13, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

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NEW DELHI, March 31 (Reuters) - India's electricity shortage from March 1 to March 30 was its worst since October, a Reuters analysis of government data shows.

A surge in power demand in March has forced India to cut coal supplies to the non-power sector and put on hold plans for some fuel auctions for utilities without supply deals due to a slump in inventories. read more

Many northern states suffered hours-long power outages in October, when a crippling coal shortage caused the worst electricity deficit in nearly five years. read more

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Shortages in the eastern state of Jharkhand and Uttarakhand in the north surpassed those of October, the latest data showed.

The western state of Gujarat, one of the country's most industrialized, has ordered a staggered shutdown of "non-continuous process" industries in key cities next week, according to a government note reviewed by Reuters.

A Gujarat energy department official said the move was due to power shortages and to facilitate continuous power supply to farmers, adding a similar strategy was last used in 2010. He declined to comment on how long the staggered shutdown will be in place.

The official declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The southern state of Andhra Pradesh and the tourist resort state of Goa, which registered marginal shortages in October, suffered deficits several times larger in March.

The deficit in March was 574 million kilowatt-hours, a measure that multiplies power level by duration, a Reuters analysis of data from federal grid regulator POSOCO showed.

That amounted to 0.5% of overall demand for the period, or half the deficit of 1% in October.

The northern states of Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab and the eastern state of Bihar, some parts of which suffered widespread outages in October, accounted for most of the deficit in March, but shortfalls were lower, the data showed.

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Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan Editing by Bradley Perrett and Mark Potter

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