Paving the way for introduction of commercial coal mining in the country, a Parliamentary select committee on Wednesday vetted the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, which seeks to end the usage of coal for just captive purposes.
The 19-member committee, in its report to the Rajya Sabha, has endorsed the coal ministry’s contention that there should be no insistence on specifying the usage of coal for “own consumption” as it would amount to restricting its utilisation for other purposes. The move could facilitate the beginning of commercial mining of coal in the near future.
Coal secretary Anil Swarup had told The Indian Express on Tuesday that as of now no commercial mining have been allowed and 33 coal blocks auctioned between February 14 and March 9 have only been given to companies with end use plants.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley had in October last year said the Coal Ordinance promulgated by the NDA government has an “enabling provision” for amending the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act although this would be done in the future and Coal India would not be impacted by it in any way.
Passage of the bill in Rajya Sabha has become imperative for the government to execute further tranches of the auction. The coal ministry is learnt to have identified 20 more mines to be auctioned soon. The Bill, that seeks to replace the Ordinance promulgated twice by the government, has been passed by Lok Sabha but had to be referred to the Rajya Sabha Select Committee for its views. Both these bills are stuck in the Rajya Sabha as the opposition has demanded that it be referred to select committees for further consideration.
Another select committee on amending the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 has asked the government to ensure that issues like the impact of mining on environment, rampant illegal mining, lack of proper and scientific mine closure, land acquisition and resettlement and capturing windfall profits for the welfare of local and tribal communities should be taken care of at a later stage. Five MPs — Digvijaya Singh, P Bhattacharya and Rajeev Shukla (Congress), Tiruchi Siva (DMK) and KN Balagopal (CPI-M) have submitted their dissent notes against the select committee’s report on the coal mining bill.