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Business News/ Industry / Underground coal mining policy to be unveiled soon
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Underground coal mining policy to be unveiled soon

The government aims to expand production from underground coal mines to 100 million tonne annually from the current 26 million tonne

The coal ministry on Wednesday launched the eighth round of commercial coal mines auction, offering a total of 39 mines. (File Photo: AFP)Premium
The coal ministry on Wednesday launched the eighth round of commercial coal mines auction, offering a total of 39 mines. (File Photo: AFP)

New Delhi: TThe Centre is considering measures to boost underground coal mining and will soon come up with a policy framework, said coal secretary Amrit Lal Meena.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the launch of the eighth round of commercial coal mine auctions, the official said the government aims to increase coal output from underground mines to 100 million tonnes from the current 26 million tonnes per year.

“Such mines have already been identified. We had constituted a high-level committee to suggest policy measures to promote underground mining. The committee has submitted its report; the recommendations of the committee are with the ministry. They are under different discussion stages and we will shortly come out with a suitable policy framework," Meena said.

He noted that the environmental impact of underground coal mines is lower than open cast mines, as large scale deforestation is not required. Displacement of people too is significantly less.

“The impact on the environment from underground coal mines is minimized because in open cast mines we have to remove the entire forest cover. Lot of loss of the agricultural land is also involved. But in underground coal mines, because of the technologies available now the forest cover is not required to be removed. There is minimal displacement of people. So we are able to have eco-friendly mining. Therefore we are promoting underground coal mining and a lot of facilitative provisions are being thought of," Meena said.The coal ministry on Wednesday launched the eighth round of commercial coal mines auctions where it is offering a total of 39 mines. Launching the auction virtually, coal minister Pralhad Joshi said that efforts are on to stop coal imports by 2025-26.

The mines being auctioned are spread across the coal bearing states of Jharkhand, Odisha, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Bihar.

As per a road map, Coal India Ltd expects coal from underground mines to be around 31-34 million tonnes in FY24, rising to 99-100 million tonnes in FY28.

These mines being auctioned come under CMSP Act and MMDR Act. Out of 39 coal mines, four mines are being offered under second attempt of seventh round of auctions, where single bid were received in the first attempt. Of the 35 coal mines being offered under eighth round, 16 coal mines are new and 19 mines are being rolled over from earlier tranches.

An official statement said that the ministry has introduced a series of reforms to ensure that the coal sector grows at a rapid pace and is able to meet the growing energy demand of the country.

“For 8th round also, mines falling under protected areas, wildlife sanctuaries, critical habitats, having forest cover greater than 40%, heavily built-up area etc. have been excluded. The block boundaries of some of the coal mines where there was presence of dense habitation, high green cover or critical infrastructure etc. have been modified for early development of coal mine," it said.

On 24 October, Mint reported that Centre is set to launch the eighth round of commercial coal block auction soon with around 40 blocks on offer, in a first, the union ministry of coal has carried out on-ground verification of the blocks to be auctioned and prepared video brochures for bidders in order to increase investor interest.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rituraj Baruah
Rituraj Baruah is a senior correspondent at Mint, reporting on housing, urban affairs, small businesses and energy. He has reported on diverse sectors over the last six years including, commodities and stocks market, insolvency and real estate. He has previous stints at Cogencis Information Services, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) and Inc42.
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Published: 15 Nov 2023, 06:39 PM IST
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