Govt working for consensus on coal reforms

PTI New Delhi | Updated on May 01, 2011

Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal, Minister for Coal   -  Business Line

As part of the energy sector reforms, government is trying to evolve a consensus on commercial mining of coal to promote development of the sector, the Coal Minister, Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal said today.

“Ideally, coal sector should have been opened for commercial mining in line with the energy sector reforms that followed in the early nineties,” Mr Jaiswal said at the ’Energising India’ summit here.

He said commercialisation of coal would have helped in promoting competition and fixing of its prices. “However, this is yet to come through,” the minister said, adding the government is working towards a consensus on commercial mining.

After nationalisation of the coal mines in 1973, the mining in the sector is done exclusively by the public sector companies with Coal India Ltd (CIL) claiming over 82 per cent of the production.

A bill to amend the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act to allow private participation has been pending in Parliament for the last 10 years for want of political consensus, sources said.

The private sector is allowed coal mining for meeting their captive requirements in sectors like power, steel and cement etc.

However, the minister said the experience of granting coal blocks on captive basis has not yielded desired results for various reasons. He did not elaborate.

According to government estimates, India faces a supply gap of 142 million tonnes of coal against the requirement of 696 million tonnes in the current financial year.

In the next 20 years, import dependence can go up to 55 per cent of the demand, the minister said.

Mr Jaiswal also expressed concern over delays in environment clearances to coal projects which is hampering sector’s growth.

“There are certain constraints in the way of augmenting production which include obtaining forestry and environmental clearances for coal projects in time and rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected persons,” he said.

The Ministry of Environment and Forest has declared 203 coal blocks as ‘no go’ mining zones affecting coal production of 660 million tonnes per annum, according to the Coal Ministry.

A Group of Ministers is trying to resolve the inter-ministerial differences on the issue.

Besides, 150 CIL projects are stuck due to delays in environmental clearances at the state and central level.

Apart from efforts to expedite clearances, Mr Jaiswal said, the government is “encouraging acquisition of coal properties abroad with a number of companies both in private and public sector having achieved some success in this regard.”

Published on April 28, 2011

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