Coal mine allottees must work to start output: Union Secretary

Raipur: The Centre has taken policy decisions to ensure early operationalisation of coal mines but their allottees should also go the extra mile along with the government to start the mines, a top official said.

Union Coal Secretary Sumanta Chaudhuri said his ministry has started the process of auctioning 27 mines and allotment of 15 coal mines, and the process is likely to get completed by November. He was speaking at a stakeholder consultation meeting on issues related to the coal sector organised by the Ministry of Coal in collaboration with industry body FICCI here.

The ministry has already taken policy decisions to ensure early operationalisation of coal mines, Chaudhuri said. These decisions include allowing sale of 25 per cent coal in open market in case of allocation for specified end-use plant, relaxation in efficiency parameters, provision of grace periods and introduction of eCPMP, MDMS portal, among others, he said. The ministry is also working on policy interventions to develop a Single Window Scheme (SWS) for faster approvals of clearances from various central and state agencies, the coal secretary said.

He said the government, PSUs and private sector companies all collectively will have to solve the problem of operationalisation of coal blocks. “It is important to realise that in spite of having very abundant coal reserve in this country we continue to be deficit in the supply of coal in the overall situation and that is certainly not a happy situation at all. It is something that we all collectively need to correct,” he said. “One of the major reasons why we are doing this (discussion) to see how we can collectively reduce the time taken and solve some of the issues that have been breaking the operationsalistion of coal blocks. You are aware that there is certain legacy in the coal sector which of course we are all bound to follow…there have been certainly certain adverse consequences on those. But the idea is to move on and not get bumped down… that is precisely what we are trying to do,” Chaudhuri said.

The coal secretary asserted that along with the government the coal block allottees had to take steps to start the mines and enhance production. While central and state governments have embarked on ease of doing business, it is equally imperative that all the coal block allottees also pull up their socks, he said. There is a certain degree of comfort which I think that all coal block allottees have been used to since almost most of them have coal linkages “So long that you (coal producers) have coal linkages there is no imperative necessity to operationalise the coal blocks,” he said.

Chaudhuri asked coal block allottees to take extra efforts to start production. “So you need to pull up your socks and need to ensure that you go that extra mile along with the government in operationalising these blocks,” he said. Chaudhuri requested state governments to explore the possibility of simplifying the process of granting mining lease. Speaking on the occasion, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Coal, Ashish Upadhyaya informed about policy decisions taken to ensure ease of doing business, online electronic auction process and details of the blocks available for allocation.