New Delhi: The Group of Ministers (GoM) on coal will meet on 16 June for an early resolution of issues, hurting dry-fuel production amid a widening demand and supply gap, which is likely to touch 137 million tonnes this fiscal.
The development follows a letter by the Coal Ministry to the Finance Ministry, seeking an early date for the third meeting of the inter-ministerial panel to resolve the issues, which it claimed were causing a potential loss of 660 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) in production.
“Next meeting of the GoM, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, has been fixed on 16 June . The meeting is likely to come out with some concrete solutions to resolve the issues,” a senior Coal Ministry official said.
The GoM was constituted at the behest of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in February 2011 to sort out tussles between ministries on environment norms affecting projects, especially in the coal sector.
The 12-member GoM had met twice in February and April, but could not reach at any conclusion then.
The third meeting, which was scheduled to be held in end of April could not take place despite Coal Ministry repeatedly showing concerns that delays in green clearances were affecting expansion of coal projects.
The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) in 2009 had categorised 203 coal blocks as ‘no go´ mining zone. The output from these 203 blocks can generate around 1.3 lakh MW of power per annum as per the estimates of the Coal Ministry.
The Coal Ministry has been demanding permission to mine at least 90% of these 203 blocks to meet the ever widening demand-supply gap of the dry fuel. The shortage of coal is likely to reach 200 MT by 2016-17.
In the second meeting of the GoM, the Environment Ministry had proposed that it was “prepared to consider ‘go/ no-go´ approach that will free 71% of area in the nine coalfields (203 blocks).”
Originally, the Environment Ministry had proposed to free only 53% of the area in the nine coalfields.