The government of India has no plans for de-nationalisation of the coal sector and all the apprehensions expressed by various quarters on this issue were totally baseless, union coal secretary Anil Swarup on Friday said in Kolkata. He said this at the sidelines of a seminar called ‘Indian Coal Story—-Prospects and Challenges’, organised by MCC Chamber of Commerce at a city hotel.
“That some private companies were gicen rights on captive coal mines did not mean the central government was going in for de-nationalisation of Coal India. That is not going to happen. You see, after bank nationalisation took place banks in private sectors like the ICICI bank or HDFC bank came up. But never any de-nationalisation of banks took place,” Swarup said.
Swarup also revealed that the coal ministry is working on setting up 50 joint ventures with the railways for better evacuation process from coal mines to the required sites and a meeting between the two ministries has been fixed in Delhi on January 29.
“For better evacuation from coal mines what is needed is laying of fresh railway tracks, bridges, getting new rakes etc and we are working with the railways to set up 50 such new projects in the country,” the official said.
The coal seretary also said that while the government would finish auctioning and allotting 101 coal blocks by end of April this year, another 103 coal blocks would be auctioned and allotted by end of March nexr year.
The process of auctioning has been initiated after the government had promulgated the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 2014, in October following cancellation of 218 coal blcoks by the Supreme Court in September this year.
Incidentally India is the third biggest producer of coal after China and USA and is having the fifth largest reserves in the world. The country is also the third biggest consumer of coal after China and USA and by 2016-17, with demand reaching about 900 million tonnes, India will become the second largest consumer of coal after China.
“Our challenge is to enhance coal production from about 564 million tonnes in the current year to 1 billion tonne next year,” Swarup further said.
So far as mining in North-eastern states like Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya ios concerned, the official said the central government was in touch with the states so that they allowed the government to go for mining in those states, something the states were not very keen on.
The official also said that his ministry was not very enthusiastic about importing coal from abroad. “Unless it is absolutely necesaey coal import is not encouraged,’ Swarup further said.