The Centre is considering providing mines to private players for commercial mining but the demand situation was holding it back from taking a final call. Coal Secretary Anil Swarup on Thursday said, the coal minster is eager to give blocks to private companies for commercial mining, but the availability should be checked with. It has to be assured that everyone is getting coal.
However, the state governments have already been allocated blocks for commercial mining.
The secretary, who was keynote speaker ‘India’s Coal Sector – Vision 2020’ organized by MCC Chamber of commerce and Industry, also said that in order to bring down coal imports at a faster rate, public sector units (PSUs) in the power sector will follow ‘zero imports’ from the next fiscal onwards.
“In power sector, we engage with each of the public sector entities and by March 31, this year, there will be zero imports by all the public sector entities in power sector and there will be no imports thereafter,” Swarup said. He said the objective is to bring down imports as the country increases the domestic coal production.
Imports are coming down but centre’s objective is to bring down imports at much faster rates. This year, the government should be able to reduce imports by 15 million tonnes. The ministry has done a detailed analysis of how to handle imports and the strategy related to both power and non-power sector.
On the other hand, in the context of providing mines to the private parties, Swarup said there has been a paradigm shift in the problem – from a phase of supply shortage to a phase of demand shortage and this demand shortage was due to low generation of the generation companies at Plant Load Factory (PLF) not more than 59-60 per cent.
The generation companies were generating low because of low demand from distribution companies. However, the Uday scheme, that has been floated to restructure the distribution companies, could be the only saviour to this situation, he believes.
The Coal Secretary added that with the firming up of international prices, chances go up that coal prices would be picked up. The government has set a target to produce 1.5 billion tonnes of coal domestically by 2020.