The announcement allowing 100 per cent foreign direct investment in commercial coal mining sounds good. Its translation to execution will be crucial. The government failed to open the industry to competition, despite liberalisation of the economy years ago, because of bureaucratic indecision. The Union cabinet had also approved policies opening coal mining to private miners and partially removing restrictions on the sale of coal produced at the so-called captive mines but these too have not been implemented. It is a paradox that with the world’s fifth-largest reserves of the fuel, we imported over 40 per cent more coal during January to April this year compared to last year. That the dip in global price of coal should dictate the pace of our self-sufficiency in a vital sector as coal is but a fig leaf over goal clarity.
R Narayanan, Navi Mumbai
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