Assocham asks government to enhance coal output to meet power needs

Amid investigations in alleged irregularities in allocation of mines, industry body Assocham today said the government must immediately initiate steps to enhance coal output and ensure adequate fuel supply to the power sector to save it from being engulfed by controversies.

“It is nobody’s case to defend any wrong-doings. But to hold the entire sector, which is a lifeline to the economy, to ransom would deal a deadly blow to the industrial output and the overall economic growth,” Assocham president Rajkumar Dhoot said in a release.
Expressing concern over widening demand-supply deficit, he said it has hit several power projects, including the ultra mega power projects, being forced to import coal from other countries such as Indonesia.

“It would be a travesty of the worst order if a country with reserves of 2,85,862 million tonnes (MT), is not able to mine coal and is forced to go in for expensive imports,” Dhoot said, adding that imports would have a cascading impact on the economy and would raise vital inputs cost.

Appreciating Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s efforts to fast-track the sector’s growth, Assocham said there is a need to ensure that the enhanced target set for infrastructure ministries are met.

The government has set a production target of 470 MT for CIL for this fiscal. Of this, the company will dispatch 347 MT to the power sector, as against 312 MT last year.

“The Prime Minister’s Office should keep up the pressure on, and ensure that the targets agreed upon should be delivered,” Dhoot said.

Terming the situation on coal blocks allocation as “pathetic”, Assocham said, “Out of 195 blocks allocated (to firms for captive use), only 28 have begun production… it is about time the government and the private players, held discussions and sorted out the issues – be it environmental clearances and lack of other infrastructure.”

On future allocations, it said the policy for that should be transparent.

The government has come under criticism from amid charges of irregularities in block allocation between 1993 and 2009. The Central Vigilance Commission has referred the case to the CBI for probing alleged irregularities in coal block allocation.

A media report had recently said a Comptroller and Auditor General’s draft has estimated that undue benefits of over Rs 1.8 lakh crore accrued to private companies in coal block allocations.

The government has said, however, it has not received any such CAG report.
Source: ET


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