The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) will soon take a call on methodology for allocation of coal blocks for commercial mining, a top official has said. The comments come amid some of the power producers facing low coal stocks at their plants. “The CCEA note (on methodology of commercial coal mining) is ready. I think in the next one week or 10 days it should come in the Cabinet,” Coal Secretary Susheel Kumar told PTI. A discussion paper on the modalities for allocation of coal mines through auction route was earlier placed in the public domain for seeking comments of stakeholders. “We have already received comments of stakeholders,” Kumar asserted. The government, he said, plans to put under the hammer around 5-6 coal blocks for commercial mining by private players. “Five to six mines will be auctioned under commercial mining,” the Secretary said. Coal Minister Piyush Goyal had said earlier this year that enabling provisions have been made in the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 for allocation of coal mines by way of auction and allotment for the sale of coal.
Commercial mines are alloted without specifying the end use and allow private entities to sell the fuel to buyers across sectors such as power, cement and steel. India is in the process of throwing open commercial coal mining to private firms for the first time in four decades, with the aim of shifting the world’s third-biggest coal importer towards energy self-sufficiency.
The government had earlier said that opening up of commercial coal mining to private companies will bring in competition in the coal sector and will reduce power tariff. The government had said it wants to convey to potential investors that sustainable and efficient mining, not revenue maximisation, is the idea behind commercial coal auction.