On instructions from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Planning Commission is soon expected to convene a meeting of coal, power, steel and environment ministers to explore ways to expedite environmental clearances for infrastructure projects.
"The Prime Minister has directed Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to hold a meeting of coal, steel, power, environment ministries soon...Within next 7-10 days," a top government official said.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had on Friday said the Prime Minister has asked the Planning Commission to prepare a detailed roadmap on problems faced by the coal industry like that of green clearances.
Coal is a key raw material for the growth of both power and steel companies.
Also, the Prime Minister had asked Ahluwalia to convene such a meet in the wake of the delays being faced to start multi-billion dollar projects like that of Posco and Vedanta Resources, primarily stuck due to delays in securing environment clearances.
The decision for holding such a meet follows the Prime Minister's recent call for doubling infrastructure investment to an ambitious $one trillion (Rs 41 lakh crore) during the XII Five Year Plan ending 2017.
The meeting, which is expected to see the participation of Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh, Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Plan Panel's Ahluwalia, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal and Environment Minister Ramesh, may deliberate on the future of many mega projects.
The ministry heads could further discuss ways to fast track different projects, leading to a rapid growth of their respective sectors.
While Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal is likely to seek solutions for getting easy environment clearances for various coal projects, including that for state-owned Coal India, Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh is expected to seek early approvals for mega investments planned in the sector.
The coal sector is also crucial to feed the huge power generation projects planned for the country. The demand-supply gap for the dry fuels in the current fiscal stands at 70 million tonnes and is expected to more than double in the next two years on a surge in consumption from the power sector.
Bottlenecks in clearing coal mining proposal and holding back allocations of captive coal blocks also hinder the growth of the power sector.
Similarly, the steel ministry is struggling to fix a targeted production capacity by 2012 as most of the proposed projects, including that of Posco and ArcelorMittal are stuck amid such regulatory hurdles.