Coal India Ltd has set itself the target of augmenting production by 420.85 million tonnes during the 12th Plan (2012-17) by developing 133 projects. But the company will have to overcome environmental and forestry clearance hurdles if it is to achieve its goals.

The annual report for 2011-12 states that the public sector miner had started on the implementation of 147 projects at the end of the 11th Plan period. Of these, only 80 received both environment and forestry clearances.

The PSU was still awaiting environmental clearances for 13 projects and forestry clearances for 34 projects. In addition, both environmental and forestry clearances were pending for 20 projects.

Delays in the grant of environment and forestry clearances for projects could upset the applecart for CIL. The 147 projects have an ultimate capacity of 437.08 million tonnes per year. Of these, the coal miner expects to achieve a 228.67-million-tonne increase in output during FY2012-13 through the implementation of 100 projects.

The Annual Report says CIL was able to boost output by 211.39 million tonnes during 2011-12, with contributions from 85 ongoing projects. CIL produced a total of 435.84 million tonnes of coal during 2011-12, slightly higher than the preceding year.

The growth in production could have been higher, had it not been for delays in the grant of new mining clearances and problems caused by heavy rain.

With power plants and other industries already starved for coal, delays in ramping up output could have implications for economic growth.

Demand for coal is estimated at 980.5 million tonnes by 2016-17, whereas indigenous availability is projected at 795 million tonnes, at the maximum.

(This article was published on September 30, 2012)
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