Objections by Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan today blocked a key power sector reform Bill in the cabinet.
The Independent Coal Regulatory Authority Bill,2012,seeks to empower the watchdog to determine the price of raw coal,washed coal and by-products,according to the cabinet note. It proposes to give the watchdog the power to authorise mining,production and supply of coal,and suspend or cancel operations of errant coal producers. The power sector is in distress due to the poor availability of coal.
The Bill has now been referred to a Group of Ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The two ministers differed with the contours of the proposed law and called for a review of its provisions,officials said.
Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told The Indian Express: Kharge told the cabinet that going by the provisions of the Bill,the functions of the regulator and the Directorate General of Mines Safety could overlap. Natarajan said that the movement of coal,if done at the behest of the regulator,can pollute the environment and trigger concerns.
Jaiswal said that an independent regulator is needed because of the near monopoly that producers enjoy. Also,regulation is currently done by agencies closely associated with both the government and producers,he said.