Millennium Post

Centre won’t allow commercial coal sale from auctioned blocks

Coal Secretary Anil Swarup has categorically stated that commercial mining for sale in the open market would not be allowed from any of the 204 coal blocks that are scheduled to be auctioned in two tranches in this and next year. Speaking in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal which has considerable reserves of coal, he explained, “In the first tranche under which 101 blocks will be auctioned, the Government intends to place under the hammer blocks meant for projects which are ready for production — be it in the power, steel or any other segment,” making it clear that these blocks would not be given for commercial market sale.

Swarup added that the second tranche of auction of 103 blocks would probably be taken up after March 2016. “In this tranche, the Government may auction blocks to projects that may have units under construction. A final decision on eligibility for participating in auctions for the second tranche will be decided later,” he informed.

Over 100 bid forms have been sold for the first tranche of auction of 46 coal blocks slated to be completed by March 23, Swarup informed.

Referring to the contentious issue of coal imports, the high volume of which is costing the country valuable foreign exchange, Swarup clarified that the Government is not going to encourage coal imports as a policy but it will not impose curb either.

“As a policy, we are not going to facilitate coal import, which is easier, and instead put our mind and effort on looking into how domestic coal production can be hiked,” Swarup said.

“However, if industry wants to import coal for its need, we are not stopping it,” the coal secretary said at an interactive session of the MCC Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The total volume of imported coal rose to 168.4 million tonnes last fiscal and the government had estimated earlier this year that the domestic shortage would range between 185 and 265 million tonnes by 2016-17.

The Coal Ministry had earlier indicated that coal import could stop over the next 2-3 years with an ambitious plan of 1.5 billion tonnes of coal production by 2020. The government has set a production target for Coal India at one billion tonnes of coal by 2020 and another around 500 million tonnes for captive or entities other than Coal India.

“The one-billion-tonne production resolution will be placed before the next board meeting,” Swarup said. He elaborated that the government also decided to set up 50 railway projects across the country to ramp up coal evacuation.

The Coal Ministry is holding discussion with the Railway Board to chalk out the feasibility of the projects, after which it would be decided how to execute them. The Government emains open
to private sector participation but details will be discussed later.
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