Alarmed over the ministry of power’s assessment that country will face a whopping shortfall of 238 million tonnes (MT) of coal in the 12th five year plan period (2012-2017), the cabinet secretariat has asked the ministry of coal for identifying bottlenecks which are slowing down production. The cabinet secretary, Ajit Seth has also asked for details of coalfields awaiting approvals.
Recently the prime minister’s office wanted the coal ministry to examine whether setting up of an ‘empowered body’ similar to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for the sector is feasible. The proposal, mooted by the PMO, is currently addressing various issues pertaining to increasing coal production in the country and meeting the fuel requirements of the power sector.
In fact, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has also pulled up the government for not having a single window clearance mechanism for the coal sector in its report on allocation of coal blocks and augmentation of coal production.
According to the sources, government is yet to finalise composition of the proposed body, but the ministries of environment, coal, power and steel as well as state governments concerned would have a representatives on the panel.
In a note set on October 23, a copy of which is with DNA, the cabinet secretariat has sought details on production, import, evacuation of coal from SK Srivastava, the Union coal secretary.
In this context, the ministry of coal has been asked to “identity specific bottlenecks, removal of which may lead to increase in coal production, import of coal, evacuation and transportation of coal in the short time.”
The cabinet secretariat has also asked that coal ministry to “identify key coalfield projects which are awaiting land acquisition/ land resettlement sites from state government or forest clearance and environment clearance, which may lead to increase in coal production in the medium term.”