Power minister Piyush Goyal, who got the additional charge of the coal and mines ministry in the Cabinet reshuffle, said on Thursday that he was hoping to raise the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP an additional 1 percentage point from around 2.5% now in the next two-three years.
He promised to focus on national interest and the interest of the consumers and fast-track auctioning of the mines to enhance mineral production. “If we can target about
30-40% growth (production) every year, we can enhance the contribution of the sector to GDP significantly,” Goyal said.
Auctioning of the mines have just started and exploration policy for non-coal mines, with the aim of inviting private parties, has been announced, though rules are yet to be framed. A continuous tussle between domestic iron ore and steel industry is there over various issues. Non-ferrous metal sectors are also passing through a bad phase. The net profit of Nalco, the biggest PSU under the ministry, has nearly halved in FY16 to R731 crore over the previous fiscal.
Asked whether the coal and power ministries should be merged, he said: “Prime Minister and senior leaders will take necessary decision as to what is the need of the hour. We have seen that many ministries have undergone change. For example, overseas Indian affairs has been merged with external affairs. This is a dynamic process. This government does not believe that we have to sit like an ostrich. We believe in new ideas to flourish.”
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a person who has shown tremendous understanding of the working of different departments over the last two years. The very fact that he brought power, coal and new and renewable energy under one umbrella, demonstrated to the world the synergies between these sectors. Once upon a time they were both under one ministry. When there was a need to focus on coal, it was separated. Now, I think the PM has thought that we are doing things so transparently, it’s almost a natural fit that both ministries come under one umbrella,” Goyal said.