Millennium Post

'Cheaper coal to meet power requirements': Jaiswal

Defending the move to force Coal India to sign agreements to supply coal to power companies, coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on Monday said the government's priority was to ensure availability of electricity at cheaper rate and it will not be cowed down by threats of legal action by minority shareholder TCI.

In face of opposition from the company board, the government had last month issued presidential directive to CIL asking it to sign fuel supply agreements (FSAs) with power companies, committing to supply 80 per cent of the quantities for which the contract has been signed.

Jaiswal said during question hour that India was a socialist country where national priorities have to be balanced with goals of a public sector unit.

'Profitability of Coal India as well as meeting power requirement of the country by supplying coal at cheaper rates was government's concern,' he said.

The UK-based Children's Investment Fund (TCI), the biggest foreign investor in CIL, has threatened legal action against the state-run firm for its alleged failure to protect the interest of minority shareholders.

'Such threats will not affect the government,' he said. 'Our responsibility is also towards the country which needs power at cheaper rates.'

TCI argues that the directive will reduce CIL profits.

'Supply of coal at notified prices to power and other major sectors is essential to keep the cost of power generation and manufacturing at reasonable levels,' Jaiswal said.
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