New Delhi: In the next financial year, the government will step up its expenditure on the exploration of coal and lignite by 20 percent, even as funding for coal mine safety and conservation will be reduced, the Budget document said. With rising fuel imports adding to a growing trade deficit, the government has been encouraged to spend in developing more domestic coal resources.
For the exploration of coal and lignite, the government plans to spend Rs 6 billion in the coming financial year, as per the Budget document for 2019-20.
Coal safety spending slashed for 2nd consecutive year
The government will slash spending on the safety, conservation and related infrastructure development by nearly one third from the last year to Rs 1.35 billion. This will be the second consecutive year that the government has reduced its spending on coal safety.
India lags behind in mine safety
Although India is one of the world’s largest consumers of coal, it fares poorly in terms of ensuring the safety of its miners. According to data, one miner died in the country every six days on average in 2017, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for coal mining. The coal ministry has refuted the argument saying that coal companies have their own safety budgets.
The coal ministry said state-run Coal India Ltd, which generates more than four-fifths of India’s coal output, has been assigned Rs 8.6 billion for safety-related spending for this fiscal, up from Rs 8 billion a year earlier.
The country did away with a separate excise duty levied on coal companies following reformed tax policies in 2017. The coal ministry said it had increased spending for coal exploration in the coming financial year to grow more coal blocks and minimise imports.