Millennium Post

CIL’s new chief eyes technology to augment coal output

Seeking to modernise over 220 years old coal mining business in the country, PSU behemoth Coal India’s new chief S Bhattacharya has lined up a ‘future strategy’ to boost productivity with the use of latest technology and meet targets diligently.

Bhattacharya, who took charge last week as Chairman and Managing Director, said his aim would be to work with a twin-priority of ramping up coal production and increasing coal supplies to its consumers.

“Our strategies for future would include productivity improvement in mines through technology upgradation in opencast mines with induction of high capacity equipment.

“In underground mines, this will be done with continuous miner technology in large scale, long-wall technology at selected mines, man riding system in major mines and use of tele monitoring techniques,” Bhattacharya said in an interview.

Other system improvements would include e-procurement of equipments and spares, e-tender of works and services etc, he said, while adding that ultimately Coal India Ltd’s aim is to meet the targets diligently.

The government has announced plans to boost Coal India’s annual production to the level of 1 billion tonnes by 2019 to meet growing fuel demand.

The new chairman of the PSU major said that ramping up output and improving profitability will be his top-most priorities, although he admitted that the coal production target of 925 million tonnes by 2019-20 is a huge challenge.

“For any commercial business entity, what matters most is the bottom line. I intend to steer the company with a three-pronged agenda,” Bhattacharya said.

“Coal India’s major challenge is to meet the rising demand from the power sector. CIL is doing its best to see that power utilities in the country do not suffer for want of coal,” said Bhattacharya, who incidentally took charge just a day before a major strike by coal workers across the country.

“There is no single silver-bullet solution to the challenges, except for actively pursuing them at appropriate levels for expeditious action,” said Bhattacharya, who was part of negotiations held by the Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal with the union leaders to convince them to call off their strike.

The strike ended after two days on January 7, although the unions had initially given a call for a five-day strike in the biggest ever industrial action in over four decades.

India has a long history of commercial coal mining, spanning 220 years starting 1774, when East India Company began work in the Raniganj Coalfield along Damodar river.

CIL as an organized state-owned coal mining corporate came into existence in November 1975 with the government taking over private coal mines. Today, it is the single largest coal producer in the world. 

One thing that needs to be understood is that targets are set in tandem with commensurate coal demand of the country. However, it is evident that coal demand in the country is far outstripping the indigenous production.

“So the immediate need is to narrow the gap through increased indigenous production to the extent possible. We have set a target of 925 million tonne coal production by 2019-20, which is a huge challenge,” Bhattacharya said.

Stating that the company has identified certain major issues to help enhance production, the CIL chairman said “Seeing the timely completion of three major railway lines is our priority short term strategy leading to unlocking of large coal reserves in the states of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Odisha for extraction.”  
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