(From right) Power minister Piyush Goyal with NTPC chairman Arup Roy Chowdhury, CESC chairman Sanjiv Goenka, Adani Group head Gautam Adani and Jindal Steel & Power chief Naveen Jindal in New Delhi on Friday. (PTI)
New Delhi, June 20: The government today decided to step up coal mining by fast tracking environment clearances to existing mines.
After a meeting with the heads of electricity generating firms, power and coal minister Piyush Goyal said: “We’ve taken certain decisions in terms of requesting the environment ministry to allow additional mining for the coal mines which are already operational.”
Anil Ambani of Reliance Power, Naveen Jindal of Jindal Steel and Power and Gautam Adani of Adani Power were present at the meeting.
Coal ministry officials said most of the mines that would be asked to step up production were with Coal India, which accounts for four-fifths of the country’s output of 562.6 million tonnes.
Environmental concerns had led to mines producing less and new mining licences being delayed, leading to huge imports of coal over the last few years.
India has been forced to import coal worth $15 billion last year and is expected to import another $17 billion during the current year.
“We hope that a good amount of additional coal can be mined at least as an interim measure for a few years till we are able to sort out the problem that the sector has faced over the last five to six years,” Goyal said.
Earlier last week, Goyal and railway minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda decided to speed up work on three lines, which could transport up to 100 million tonnes of coal a year from the new mines which are in the works.
Officials said better links and permissions to increase output at existing mines alone could push Coal India’s output from a current 462 million tonnes to 600 mt.
The move follows a directive by the Prime Minister’s Office to solve bottlenecks holding up mining and power generation.