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Coal India: the next steps

Coal India has just set a record as the biggest initial public offering, and reports suggest it has become the fourth most valuable company on the Indian Stock Exchange.

business Updated: Nov 08, 2010 00:07 IST
Bharti Chaturvedi

Coal India has just set a record as the biggest initial public offering, and reports suggest it has become the fourth most valuable company on the Indian Stock Exchange. How does it feel to your inner greenie? To me, it is ironic, but also, an important reflection of our times.

In few weeks, India will participate in the Cancun Conference of Parties, to discuss what to do next on climate change. Some developed nations will try to bully India to make commitments to cut down its emissions. India will have to remind the world that we can’t expect to get out of our poverty levels without coal and without a spurt in equitable growth and thus, a spurt in emissions. We will have to tell them of their historic IOU to the developing world.

But India must acknowledge this irony of celebrating coal. I think at least 10% of the net revenues should be kept aside for investment in green and renewable sources of energy. Coal India must also spare no efforts to audit its mine — to manufacture life cycle, and minimise emissions. Of course this is limited, as coal is coal, but it’s better than not acting at all. Why not respond to public affirmation by securing public future?

Crack-er-Tax

Big cities in India should stop patting themselves on the back after Diwali. By the noise and smoke levels in many cities, it seems we’re all back to fireworks. There has been a concerted effort nationally to convince school children to burst less crackers. Last week, the campaign was more or less laid to rest. What now?

There is no doubt that government has to control the air quality, including the pollution from crackers. We have to tax crackers, even if they are made in cottage industries. It’s a disincentive we must try out, regardless of the manufacturer protests.