Fearing huge coal reserves would go unexploited in areas where mega infrastructure projects have come up or being planned, the Coal Ministry has invited applications from companies for suggesting methods to extract the dry fuel in such regions.

“The Coal Ministry through CIL has sought EoIs from scientific institutes and research and development bodies by July 31 for conducting a detailed study to find methods of extracting coal buried under infrastructure projects without stowing the area with sand,” a senior Coal Ministry official told PTI.

Coal Minister Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal had earlier asked states not to build projects in coal-bearing areas, saying such a move will sterile at least 20 billion tonnes of coal.

“Discreet steps are needed to ensure that coal-bearing areas in the country are left unencumbered and accessible for exploitation at a future date,” he had said.

The Coal Ministry has also written to Chief Ministers of Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh to take steps needed to prevent mega projects coming up in such areas with huge coal reserves, saying the dry-fuel requirement for expansion of thermal power generation is very high.

“Of the large reserves of coal blocked in developed pillars, a substantial portion is sterilised due to the prescience of structures and inhabited localities on the surface...A detailed study is required to develop an effective method to liquidate coal,” according to CIL research arm CMPDIL’s notice inviting expression of interest (EoI) from companies.

Sources said Mr Jaiswal has also requested the Group of Ministers (GoM) on coal to re-consider its decision to allow power major NTPC to proceed with its 1,980 MW power project in Jharkhand’s North Karanpura, stating it would block nearly six billion tonnes of coal reserves.

The GoM in March had recommended that NTPC be allowed to continue at North Karanpura for 25-30 years and thereafter hand over the site to CIL to extract coal.

The other such projects for which the Ministry has registered its protests include a power plant at Korba and a sports complex at Mand-Raigarh, both of which are located in Chhattisgarh.

The country is facing shortage of coal and its imports are likely to touch a whopping 185 million tonnes (MT) by 2017, almost 20 per cent of the international dry-fuel trade.

The demand-supply gap of coal is likely to reach 185 million tonnes (MT) by 2017 against 137 MT at present.

The total demand by the power sector including that from captive power plants is expected to be 75 per cent of the total 980 MT coal demand during 2017.

(This article was published on July 22, 2012)
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