The coal ministry, accepting the demands of the power ministry, has agreed to re-draft the Bill for a regulator for the coal sector by seeking to empower the watchdog to fix prices of coal and including a member from the power sector as a member in the regulatory mechanism.
The Coal Regulatory Authority Bill, 2012 being re-drafted will now be equipped to fix prices of various grades of coal apart from determining the methodologies and policies for finalising prices of both raw and washed coal in line with their calorific values.
It is also being empowered to determine the prices of the fuel mined from captive blocks along with the royalty to be paid by allottees and also fix price of surplus coal from these mines.
Acting on the demand from electricity producers, the power ministry had raised objections to the current draft, which it argued conferred no powers on the regulator to fix coal prices or to prevent the alleged profiteering by state-run Coal India.
Since the proposed regulator is not being armed with pricing powers, it is difficult to comprehend how would the grievances of power producers get redressed. A group of ministers (GoM) headed by finance minister P Chidambaram is currently working out the contours of the Bill.
The coal ministry is understood to have agreed on including an electricity sector expert as member-power in the regulator by renaming the post of member-administration.