SC Garg bats for 100 percent FDI in coal mining, says $5 trn in jeopardy

New Delhi: On a day when trade unions at Coal India Ltd (CIL) are observing a strike against 100 percent FDI in coal mining, Power Secretary SC Garg has advocated FDI in the sector. Asserting that the Rs 5-trillion investment in coal-based power plants was in jeopardy because of a shortage of coal, Garg said on Tuesday that there was an urgent need to open the sector up to big global players to boost output. He added that Coal India should be made professionally more efficient because importing 20 percent of the country’s total coal requirement is “untenable.”

‘Power plants gasping for breath’

“Many of our coal-based power plants in the power sector are today gasping for breath. Some of them are in NCLT, some are producing 15 percent some 20 percent, some of them are not producing at all. And as much as something like Rs 5 trillion investment is in jeopardy,” Garg said while addressing a round-table conference at India Energy Forum.

‘India needs FDI in coal mining’

Endorsing the government’s decision to bring in 100 percent FDI in coal mining, Garg said, “Let us get three to five global big players which can produce 100 million tonne of coal (each year)… that would require a very different way of allocating mines. Today, we allocate small mines… If we can get five of these (global players) who can produce 500 million tonnes of coal in the next two to three years or five years, the situation would change.”

‘Something very wrong with our coal economy’

Commenting on the coal mine allocation system, Garg said that it needs to be simplified. “There is something pretty wrong about the way we are managing our coal economy. We must become an exporter of coal rather than an importer. Why are we in this situation… Over the last few years lots of mines have been allotted to the power sector,” the bureaucrat said. “Close to about 290 million tonnes of coal can be produced annually from the mines which have been allotted to the power sector. But they are producing only about 15 to 20 million tonnes, including NTPC,” he said.

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