The Centre on Monday awarded the letter of allocation to successful bidders of coal mines under the commercial auction held during October-November 2020. Speaking at the event, Home Minister Amit Shah said the coal sector will be the largest contributor to India’s ambition of being a $5 trillion economy.
“The coal sector was non-transparent, complex and favoured a few corporates. But many small trading companies are now getting into coal mining, which was not possible six years back. India has one of the largest coal reserves and high demand but ironically still imports vast quantities. Reducing import dependence is crucial for our economy,” Shah said.
The Centre in 2020 opened the coal mining sector with private companies entering the arena of commercial mining and sale of coal–-47 years after coal mining was nationalised in India.
The Centre amended the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015, in May to open the coal auction for non-mining, MSMEs and foreign companies. The two-part auction concluded in November when companies submitted bids for 19 out of the total 38 coal blocks on offer.
Among the winning bidders were Adani Enterprises, Hindalco, Vedanta ltd, Essel Mining of the Aditya Birla Group, Jindal Steel & Power ltd, and several new and non-mining companies such as Aurobindo Realty, Yazdani International, JMS Mining, and Boulder Stone Mart.
Union minister for coal Pralhad Joshi said the energy aspirations of the nation cannot be crushed in the quest to follow the West. “We should make the maximum use of our coal reserves while shifting to cleaner forms of energy,” he said adding more mines will be offered under commercial mining during January.
The ministers also launched a ‘Single Window Clearance Portal’ for the companies that have won the coal mines. “In the absence of a unified platform for grant of clearances, the companies were required to approach different departments, leading to delay in operationalisation of coal mines. Now, the complete process shall be facilitated through Single Window Clearance Portal in a phased way,” Joshi said.
Currently, some 19 major approval or clearances are required before commencing the mining operations. These include approval of mining plan and mine closure plan, grant of mining lease, environment and forest clearances, wild life clearance, clearances related to safety, environment, rehabilitation of project affected families, welfare of workers etc. The Single Window Clearance Portal would facilitate these clearances.
The coal ministry said the mine-bearing states would garner a total revenue of Rs 6,656 crore annually (over the life of mine) from these mines.