The government is working on a plan to end dependency on coal imports in next 3-4 months in order to facilitate consumption of the surplus fossil fuel produced by Coal India.
"When I took charge in 2014, I was faced with the challenge of inadequate supply of fuel. But now after two years we have come to a point where we have surplus coal and we are worried how to sell the surplus," Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said here late last evening. He was addressing a gathering at the 50-year celebration of council for fair business practices (CFBP).
"To tackle this problem of surplus, my ministry has drawn up an entire programme to see how we can completely eliminate import of coal by any state government or state discom in the next 3-4 months," he said.
For almost 6-7 decades after independence, the country had got used to power and coal shortage but today there is a situation of surplus production, he said.
"The one billion target (of coal production )that I announced was an off the cuff remark for meeting of shortage of coal and I was criticised for this. But today we are worried how are we going to sell the excess production," he said. Goyal said there is an availability of almost 20 days stock and there is not a single plant in the country which is shut due to shortage of coal.
It was earlier reported that the government has decided to push back its target of coal production of one billion tonne by 2020 as it does not have takers for the produce.
Coal India had set a target of 598 MT of production in 2016-17. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has allowed land owners and coal traders to transport the coal already extracted from the mines in Meghalaya from October 1 to May 31, 2017 on payment of royalty to the state government and other fees fixed by the National Green Tribunal.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan also directed that no other extraction shall take place in the meantime and it would later deal with the NGT's finding that coal, a natural resource vested in the state, was being illegally extracted.
"It is directed that the petitioners, as well as the respondents, who have mined the coal, are permitted to transport the coal on payment of royalty and other fees as fixed by the National Green Tribunal and other relevant status.
The extracted coal can be transported from October 1, 2016 till May 31, 2017," the bench said. It said that "the miners shall keep the accounts and if, ultimately, it is held that the coal belongs to the state, they will refund the amount with interest.
The quantum of interest shall be determined at the time of final hearing."