New Delhi: The Central government suffers an annual loss of Rs1,800 crore on account of thousands of coal mafia, which involve themselves in illegal mining across different states, an official said on Sunday.
“Thousands of coal mafia (gangs) active in coal-producing belts, including that of Coal India Ltd (CIL), plunder about six million tonnes of coal annually. Going by current prices in the domestic market, this amounts to Rs 1,800 crore a year,” the official said.
On an average, coal sells for nearly Rs1,000 per tonne in the domestic market.
He said that the mafia is primarily active in the main coal-producing states of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh -- which are also affected by Maoist violence.
Meanwhile, the Centre has asked states to form high-level committees to curb illegal mining.
Coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal had stated last week that the Centre has asked states to form empowered committees for cracking down on the 10,000 mafia groups that operate in the country.
At 267 billion tonnes, India has the world’s largest coal reserves. The fossil fuel accounts for 55% of the country’s energy needs.
CIL, which accounts for over 80% of the domestic coal production through its seven subsidiaries, produced about 430 million tonnes in 2009-10.