Sate-run Coal India Ltd is planning to import four million tonnes of coal next year to ensure adequate supply for the country’s power sector.
Speaking at an industry seminar, Minister of State for Coal Santosh Bagrodia said, “We are willing to import coal for the power sector and other industries that use coal as their primary source of fuel.”
The government is keen to assist the private sector in coal mining to ensure adequate availability of coal for the core sectors, he added. The country needs to produce 12 per cent or more coal to ensure the growth of key sectors, including infrastructure, power and cement. The country had a deficit of 50 million tonnes of coal in the last financial year. Coal production decreased to 4.9 per cent in 2007-08 from 6.2 per cent in 2005-06.
“We have to maximise coal production at minimum cost,” Bagrodia said. “We are also actively considering a coal regulator to bring transparency and fairness in the functioning of state-run coal companies.”
The government is likely to propose the setting up of a coal regulator to the Cabinet. The proposal is likely to come up before Parliament in its next session.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the function, Coal India Chairman Partha S Bhattacharyya said, “We are planning to import about four million tonnes of coal in the next year.”
“Coal India is on track to meet its production target of 405 million tonnes at a growth rate of 6.8 per cent during the current financial year,” Bhattacharyya said. Coal India had produced 380 million tons during 2007-08.
India has 10 per cent of the world’s coal reserves at over 92 billion tonnes, third only to the US and China.