Tuesday, Jan 25, 2022
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Opinion | States’ Cooperation Vital For Success Of Revamped Mining Policy

Whether commercial mining of coal will eliminate import of coal remains to be seen, writes Anil Swarup

Opinion | States’ Cooperation Vital For Success Of Revamped Mining Policy
Opinion | States’ Cooperation Vital For Success Of Revamped Mining Policy -

India has the fourth largest reserves of coal (estimated at more than 300 billion tonnes) in the world and the ann­ual requirement of coal in the country is only around 900 million tonnes. Yet, we are short of coal and import almost 25 per cent of our requirement. Hence, the  announcement made by the fin­ance minister, as part of a Rs 20-lakh crore package announced by the Prime Minister, relating to “opening” up of coal mining for commercial purpose by private entities is a welcome one. A leading English daily ran a headline, “Government ends monopoly in coal”. This was a trifle misleading. Yes, commercial mining is the need of the hour and a great decision but the decision relating to commercial mining was taken more than a year ago. In fact, government ‘monopoly’ in coal mining had ended long ago. Private sector had been mining coal for quite a while but the end-use of coal that they mined was restricted. These mines were for captive use only. Accordingly, they were not entitled to sell the coal in the market. The decision to allow sale of mined coal by private sector in the open market was taken last year. The announcement made by the finance minister recently thus was a reiteration of the decision taken earlier.

Whether commercial mining of coal will actually happen and lead to targeted additional production of more than 200 million, whether the overall production in the country will reach the targeted 1.5 billion tonnes per annum by 2024-25 and whether the “new” policy will eliminate import of coal are all moot points. These have to be analysed and discussed in the context of what happened and didn’t happen during the past five years.

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