New Delhi, March 26: The government today set up a coal regulatory authority through an executive order to bring transparency in the sector.
According to the notification, the regulator will advice the government on the principles and methodologies to determinine the price, while state-owned Coal India Ltd will continue to fix the prices, subject to the coal ministry’s approval.
The cabinet committee on economic affairs had last month approved the setting up of the authority.
It will have its headquarters in Delhi and consist of a chairperson and four members looking after legal, technical, finance and consumer interests. They will be selected on the recommendations of a six-member committee headed by the cabinet secretary.
The regulator will be empowered to specify the principles and methodology to determine the price of raw and washed coal and any other byproduct generated during washing.
It will not have the power to decide the price of coal in the domestic market. Coal India will continue to enjoy the freedom to set the rates. The regulator will also have no say in the allocation of acreages.
It will not have the power and functions that are vested with the Coal Controller under the present law. Powers, such as the settlement of disputes over quality, will be transferred to the regulator once the new bill is passed.
However, it will regulate testing methods to declare grades or quality, specify the procedure for automatic sampling and adjudicate upon disputes. It will also monitor the closure of mines and the approval of mining plans.
Experts maintain that the setting up of the authority will go a long way in cleaning up the muck that has accumulated in the sector. It will make the sector competitive and increase private participation.
Coal imports rose to a record 135 million tonnes in the last fiscal and are set to grow further.