While the government was able to ramp up coal production in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, it was still struggling in Odisha, union minister for coal and railways, Mr Piyush Goyal said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi.
“When the Odisha chief minister (CM) came down to Delhi, while he wanted to talk about his own agenda, I was more keen to flag of with him the issue which the coal sector was facing in Odisha, which is one of the prime places from where coal will come for rest of the country,” said Mr Piyush Goyal while addressing an ‘ASSOCHAM Interactive Session on Coal Industry.’
The minister said that he had sought Odisha CM’s help in increasing coal production in the state by getting land, making railway line, sorting out law and order issues and stopping harassment of coal mines by BJD (Biju Janta Dal) MLAs, particularly in Talcher which has the potential to provide coal to the power plants in rest of the country.
“But I did not get the kind of support which I should have got,” added Mr Goyal.
The biggest beneficiary, he said, would have been the state and people of Odisha. “State would get royalties, huge employment for people who for many years remained deprived of progress and development.”
He further said that District Mineral Foundation (DMF), started by the union government would have got money for tribal areas and backward districts to help improve life of people living in those unfortunate circumstances.
Mr Goyal also informed that public sector majors NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) and BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited) are both working for recalibrating turbines to use domestic coal in bigger measure.
“Many turbines in India cannot take beyond a certain percentage of domestic coal as they have been designed on imported coal (technology), I am glad that NTPC and BHEL are both working to recalibrate those plants,” said Mr Goyal while addressing an ‘ASSOCHAM Interactive Session on Coal Industry.’
“Even if it needs further investments we will allow it as a pass-through in power pricing but try and enable yourself to use domestic coal, it is worth the saving for the nation as a whole,” said Mr Goyal.
The union minister for railways also informed that his ministry was looking at changing the return that is allowed to companies or investors to own railway assets.
“Suppose one of you wants to set up your own railway line anywhere, we are going to liberally allow you to do it, if you want to own your own rakes or wagons to have an assured supply of coal movement, we can allow you to own it, not at the rates of return that you were allowed in the past which were very unattractive, but literally at a rate of return which would be quite attractive for performing companies,” explained Mr Goyal.
He said that state-run coal mining company Coal India Ltd (CIL) had taken a decision and is planning to invest thousands of crores of rupees to become totally self-sufficient in their rakes and wagons in next five to seven years.
“While they have not taken a final call but as per progressive future projections, we believe that there is a potential that Coal India (CIL) may land up investing nearly Rs 20,000 crore and will own some 1,500 or 1,700 rakes entirely of their own so that they are independent of any other freight movement,” said Mr Goyal.
He also said that Indian Railways was aggressively working to finish work on 14 lines dedicated for coal movement which are under different stages of new lines, doubling or tripling of lines which are being personally monitored by coal secretary and chairman of the Railway Board on a monthly basis to make sure there are no slippages.
“I personally flew down to Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and talked to both the chief ministers to speed up land acquisition and help us implement these projects faster,” informed Mr Goyal.
The Coal minister also said that his ministry was working both to ramp up production in its mines and allowing more mines to come up through an honest auction methodology for all people who bid and win mines in a transparent manner and start working those mines to ramp up coal production.