In a move aimed to help Coal India (CIL) attain its target of producing 1 billion tonne of coal by 2020, the government has decided to allot 11 mines to the state-owned company. The mine allocations would make all CIL subsidiaries 100 MT-plus coal production units, coal minister Piyush Goyal said on Friday.These 11 mines comprise five blocks which were de-allocated after the Supreme Court order in 2014, while the rest are newly explored, the minister added. CIL would receive the mines through the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. According to official sources, Eastern Coalfield (ECL) would get four mines in Jharkhand, Western Coalfield (WCL) would receive four in Odisha and Bharat Coking Coal (BCCL) would receive two mines in Bihar and two in Jharkhand. CIL’s overall production is expected to rise by 225 MT through these allocations. Apart from narrowing the gap between demand and supply of coal, an issue which has been plighting the power sector and other industries dependent on the fuel, the allocation is also expected to generate 18,000 direct employment in the country.
As on January 17, power plants across the country had coal stocks which were sufficient to sustain for only nine days. Shortage of railway rakes for coal transportation has been one of the major reasons behind the supply shortage. In order to improve supply of coal to power plants, Goyal said that the government has asked electricity generation units, located within 60 kms from the mines, to build covered conveyor belt systems for coal transportation. Five plants of NTPC and three DVC power stations have already been identified to initiate the process, the minister added. About opening commercial coal mining for the private sector, Goyal said that officials are assessing whether it is better to conduct the auction on ‘cost per tonne’ route, or follow the ‘production/revenue sharing’ model, as suggested by a portion of the industry.