Wednesday, July 6, 2022

PM: Commercial mining will take coal sector out of decades-long lockdown

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  • Modi said that the decades-long policy of keeping the coal sector closed for participation by private players has continued India’s dependence on coal imports

  • India’s coal sector has forever been mired in the twin categorisation of captive and non-captive mines, the PM added

New Delhi: Launching the auction process for 41 coal blocks for commercial mining on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the historic decision of opening up the coal sector for private players will take the sector out of a decades-long lockdown and will usher in self-reliance. “Today, we are not just launching an auction for commercial coal mining, we are also taking the coal sector out of a decades-long lockdown,” said PM Modi.

The decision of opening up the coal sector was part of a series of announcements made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. The Coal Ministry, in association with FICCI, launched the process for auction of these coal mines. A two-stage electronic auction process is being adopted for allocation of the coal mines.

‘Coal sector has suffered because of lack of competition’

Blaming the decades-long policy of keeping the coal sector closed for participation by private players, Prime Minister Modi said that the policy is primarily responsible for India being the second-largest importer of coal despite having one of the world’s largest reserves. Referring to the “decades-long lockdown,” Modi elaborated on the impact it has had, saying, “Despite having the world’s fourth largest coal reserves and being the world’s second-largest producer of coal, India is not exporting coal. In fact, it is the world’s second largest importer of coal. If India is indeed in the club of countries which are the largest producers of coal, why can it not be the largest exporter of coal?”

“India’s coal sector has forever been mired in the twin categorisation of captive and non-captive mines. The sector never had competition until now and has faced issues pertaining to lack of transparency in allocation,” the PM said.

‘Commercial mining is a step towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat’

Commenting on the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan announced by the government recently, Modi said, “One of the most important lessons learnt by India during the COVID crisis is that of self-reliance. Aatmanirbhar Bharat envisages that India will reduce its dependence on imports. It means that India should be able to stop importing and focus efforts on developing its own resources. What we import today, we will be the largest exporter in those fields in the time to come. That’s where we are headed.”

“In order to achieve this, it is important to take up every sector, model every product and sculpt every service in holistic way. It is import to pick up one sector at a time and take steps to make India self-reliant. The auction of coal mines for commercial mining is an important initiative in this direction,” said the PM. While implementing coal reforms, PM said that it has been ensured that India’s commitment to protecting the environment doesn’t get weakened. He added, “Latest technology can be introduced to make gas from coal and the environment will be protected with steps like coal gasification. Coal gas will be used in transport and cooking, while Urea and steel will promote manufacturing industries.” The Prime Minister said that the government has set a target to gasify around 100-million-tonne coal by the year 2030 and four projects have been identified for this purpose and around 20 thousand crore rupees will be invested.

The Prime Minister said that the steps taken towards commercial mining will be very helpful to eastern and Central India by providing the local population with employment near their homes. He said that the government has taken a decision to spend Rs 50 thousand crore on creating the infrastructure for coal extraction and transportation, which will also create employment opportunities.

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