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Mega panel to ensure timely completion of coal mining

Panel,headed by Coal Secy,can recommend policy measures.

Written by Amitav Ranjan | New Delhi |
November 8, 2013 3:31:40 am

Dogged by the unceasing sluggish progress in coal mining,the Centre has formed a jumbo panel of officials from associated ministries,including environment and forests as well as of coal-producing states to ensure “timely and early completion of procedures” at all levels.

The Central Coordination Committee,formed last week,will meet every quarter to review the progress of major coal projects held by private and public firms and sort out any inter-ministerial wrangle with the states on approvals for coal block development.

The committee will be the “coordinating agency” for monitoring and expediting environmental and forests clearances under the Forest Conservation Act and has been given the power to sort out issues pertaining to land acquisition,rehabilitation and resettlement.

Most coal blocks are lying idle because of delays in grant of mining lease by states,green approvals,land acquisition including forest land,as well as resettlement and rehabilitation issues.

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As a result,mining is delayed from 178 blocks with state and private companies holding 44 billion tonnes of coal.

The government’s order of October 29 says that purpose of the new mega committee is “to achieve effective coordination at the policy level and in the grant of requisite clearances by central ministries and by the state governments for coal sector projects”.

To that end,the panel,headed by Coal Secretary,has also been empowered to recommend policy measures.

The Centre in June 2012 formed an Inter-Ministerial Group with representatives from steel and power ministries for periodic review of development of captive coal blocks and decide on their fate after an earlier Review Committee could not accelerate clearances.

The new team has been enlarged to include principal secretaries of coal producing states,officials of Planning Commission,ministries of home,finance,industry,railways,shipping,fertilisers as well as of various chambers of commerce and industry to represent the private sector.

The committee will also oversee the creation of an e-inventory of all major coal projects to facilitate easy monitoring. The coal ministry can also refer “any particular issue” pertaining to the sector to the panel for monitoring and policy formulation.

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