Badal Sanyal

Kolkata, March 23

The Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) has begun the process of selecting the next Chairman of Coal India Ltd (CIL). The present Chairman, Mr Shashi Kumar, will retire in September 2006.

The PESB has short-listed four eligible persons from public sector companies for an interview on March 29. Among them is Mr P.S. Bhatacharya, Chairman & Managing Director of Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), who is the only CIL group executive, while the three others are non-CIL executives.

Meanwhile, Mr Kumar has said that CIL expects to post a profit before tax of around Rs 8,000 crore in 2005-06, with all its coal producing subsidiaries expecting to end the current fiscal with a profit.

Gross sales

Gross sales are expected to reach the level of about Rs 32,000 crore on a production of about 343 million tonnes (mt) by the end of the current fiscal.

He said it was disheartening to note that the power sector, being the most dominant consumer of coal, was not drawing enough as planned or as decided by the Standing Linkage Committee (SLC).

This has led to an unprecedented build-up of coal stocks at mine pitheads to a level of 26 mt, while stocks at power plants have also gone up over 17 mt.

In this situation, import of about 8 mt of coal has made the demand-supply situation uncomfortable for coal companies. Therefore, it was suggested that unless dispatches improve, CIL may find it difficult to meet its production target.

Mini-ratna status

Mr Kumar has strongly argued that CIL and its five coal producing subsidiary companies be granted Mini-ratna status.

These subsidiaries are South Eastern Coalfields Ltd, Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd, Northern Coalfields Ltd, Central Coalfields Ltd and Western Coalfields Ltd.

This kind of status was required for greater autonomy to the boards of these profitable companies, none of which depend on budgetary support or government grants.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 24, 2006)
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