Union minister for power and coal Piyush Goyal Thursday made clear his priorities of ensuring uninterrupted power supply throughout the country as promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and of enhancing coal production as a precondition to achieving that goal.
In his first visit to the Kolkata office of Coal India, which also marks it as the first visit of an NDA minister to Kolkata after the BJP came to power at the Centre, Goyal said he wants to “create a synergy between the coal and environment ministry” so that environmental clearance does not stand in the way of exploring and digging more mines.
According to one estimate, at present there over 200 coal blocks across the country that need environmental clearances before they could begin production.
Later, before leaving for Delhi, the minister, in response to a question by a party leader during a meeting at the BJP state headquarters, said there is no question of bifurcating Coal India, an long-pending issue with the Central government.
That Goyal was serious in ensuring quick environmental clearances was clear from the fact that he called Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar in between the meeting with the top brass of Coal India to fix a meeting in the next four days in Delhi between the two ministries (coal and environment).
Goyal’s meeting on Thursday was attended by Director (technical) P Kumar; Director H R, R Mohan Das; Director, Finance, Abhijeet Chatterjee to name a few.
He said of the meeting and his visit to Kolkata that “it will further the synergy between power and coal sectors so that we ensure efficient power supply to the common people”.
“We will have to enhance coal supplies while sorting out environmental issues, both of which result from policy paralysis over the years. At the meeting in Delhi, we will sort out issues that came up for discussion in today’s meeting,’’ Goyal said.
The union minister also hinted at a hike in remuneration of the company employees. “We looked at all the possible ways and means to incentivise employees in order to increase coal production.”
Significantly, Goyal also told reporters later in the day that he would “look into whether a Coal Regulatory Authority of India could be set up in the country”.