The much-anticipated breaking up of Coal India into independent mining companies with a view to raise overall coal production through higher efficiency appears to have been put on the backburner with the government now becoming more concerned on how to raise output through faster environmental approvals.
"Coal India is a company which has seven subsidiaries, which owns mines while one is engaged in prospecting and exploration. That is the status of Coal India and continues so. I think the more pressing problem before us is enhancing coal supplies, sorting out environmental issues both of which are a legacy of inaction, ineptitude and policy paralysis that the sector has faced over many years all of which is the result of environmental constraints many times unreasonable," Piyush Goyal, minister of state for power and coal, said on Thursday.
Goyal was responding to media queries about whether the plan to bifurcate Coal India into smaller units is being considered by the new government.
Consultancy firm Deloitte, which was appointed by the previous UPA government, submitted its report on restructuring of CIL in February this year.
Goyal along with his secretaries met directors and top officials of Coal India and its subsidiaries at the company's head office in Kolkata to discuss a host of issues including ways to raise supplies to power sector in the backdrop of severe power crisis in New Delhi and elsewhere and concerns over quality of coal being given to power plants.
Better and faster coordination with the environment ministry for quicker approval of mining projects was the key focus of the coal and power ministry, Goel said.
"While the meeting was going on I also discussed with environment minister. We have already set up a meeting in the next four days where we shall be further sorting out some of the very valuable suggestions that have come up today," Goel told reporters emerging from the meeting.
The environment and coal ministries were at loggerheads during the previous UPA government over the issue of clearances for mining in forest areas leading to long delays in approvals and emergence of concepts like "no-go" areas for mines.
Apart from ensuring faster green nod, the meeting also explored ways to raise output by giving incentives to Coal India personnel.
"We are looking at best practices and also looking at how to incentivise the employees of Coal India to further enhance production because in the last 4-5 years output has not matched with the demand in the country. It is essential that we rapidly ramp up production and I am fairly confident that this team will perform."
The Department of Public Enterprises had earlier approved performance-related payment for executives of Coal India and its subsidiaries, which was based on profit before tax (PBT) of the holding company.