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TCS, Infosys plan power backup amid coal supply worry

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Indian IT services providers are gearing up for power outages due to the ongoing coal shortage at generating stations. They have urged employees to ensure power back-up to avoid disruption to key projects as overseas clients raised alarm after low coal stocks at India’s thermal power stations made international headlines, even though the situation seems to be easing somewhat.

Tata Consultancy Services (

) and have sent emails to senior executives.

The top two software services exporters have asked senior executives to prepare electricity back-up plans in case of outages and give early warnings if load-shedding continues in some states.

Nearly 90% of India’s IT sector employees have been working from home since the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March last year to contain the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Even as Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana have resorted to load-shedding over the last few days, the central government has maintained that there is no coal shortage.

Union power secretary Alok Kumar previously said power outages due to low coal inventories at generating units are much below 1%.

The power generation capacity with low domestic coal stock eased to 137 Gw on October 13, from 142 Gw the day before, official data showed. The country’s 165-Gw monitored, coal-based power capacity continues to operate with an average four days’ worth of coal stock, from the required level of a minimum 15 days.

Business Continuity

TCS has started preparing business continuity plans (BCPs) keeping in mind the ongoing shortage, sources said. Senior employees have been informed via emails about the coal supply crunch that “may impact power supply.” They have been asked to raise an alarm in case many subordinates on projects are affected, the sources said.

The emails have gone out to senior employees who are responsible for project planning, staff management and project delivery, sources in the company said.

Infosys, India’s second-largest IT services provider, is also closely monitoring the situation in several regions and has emailed employees last week, asking them to make provisions for power back-up, a person in the know of developments at the Bengaluru-based company told ET.

Infosys has assured clients of business continuity, saying its campuses are well-equipped with generators and other alternative energy sources and that it can also bring back employees on crucial projects to office if the situation worsens, the person added.

TCS and Infosys did not respond to ET’s queries until press time on Thursday. IT industry association, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), did not offer comment on the issue.

The Indian IT industry now accounts for 8% of the national gross domestic product (GDP) and has a 52% share in services exports, according to Nasscom, which has pegged industry revenue for FY21 at $194 billion, a growth rate of 2.3% year-on-year.

On Wednesday, news wire PTI reported that finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had termed the coal shortage “absolutely baseless”.

On Thursday, coal minister Pralhad Joshi reviewed production and offtake at two Coal India subsidiaries – Central Coalfields and Bharat Coking Coal – and directed them to sustain production and dispatches to power plants.

Total daily coal dispatches to power stations stand at 1.95 million tonnes (mt), against consumption of 1.91 mt. Coal India has said supplies will further increase after Friday as the Navratri festivities end.

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