Western Coalfields Limited (WCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Limited, is engaged in mining through 82 mines spread across 10 areas in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and marketing of coal with a strong customer base comprising power, cement, steel, chemicals, fertilisers, paper and brick kilns in south, north and central India. Its chairman and managing director DC Garg spoke to Hindustan Times on a range of issues. Excerpts:
What have been the performance highlights of Western Coalfields during 2011-12?
By producing 43.11 million tonnes of coal, removing 122.49 million cubic metres of overburden (OB), WCL has reported impressive revenues of R8357.48 crore along with sturdy pre-tax profit of Rs 440.50 crore during the financial year 2011-12. The company has achieved an overall productivity of 2.70 tonnes per man shift, which is 106.3% of the targeted 2.54 tonnes per man shift, thus registering a growth of 1.88% over the last year's 2.65 tonnes per man shift. Net worth of the company has risen from Rs 3236.59 crore last year to Rs 3315.22 crore on March 31, 2012.
What are your key thrust areas to augment coal production?
Infusion of mass production technology in underground mines by benchmarking with the best in the world, human resource engineering by up-skilling the fast dwindling manpower to match with technological infusion, augmenting fresh talent by way of recruitments, thrust on exploration, improving quality of life in coalfields, thrust on corporate social responsibility, garnering social acceptability and above all environmental sustainability are among the key thrust areas.
What’s the way forward you’ve set to resolve the contentious issue of land acquisition?
Thirty-three ongoing projects of capacity 32.08 million tonnes at present in the company require 9,600 hectares of land. Earlier, we used to acquire land to the tune of about 400 hectares land per annum, which has now been enhanced to 2,050 hectares per annum since last year. Majority of land acquisition in WCL command area consists of tenancy land. It is imperative that the project affected people are persuaded to give land willingly. In order to remove the logjam due to resistance arising out of the demand of high rates of land compensation, we approached Maharashtra state government and got the land rates enhanced to Rs 6 lakh to Rs 10 lakh per acre depending upon the classification of land. We may have to spend Rs 1,200 crore on this account. But, the best part of the deal is that the land acquisition and physical possession cases are now being resolved speedily and the mood of the peasants are upbeat.
A coal regulator is in offing. What are your views on it?
In the long-term scenario, which entails coexistence of nationalised companies and the private sector, the coal regulator is, in fact, one of the key reforms in coal mining as it would result in benchmarking of operational standards and speedy resolution of pricing issues.