CCEA approved setting up of the regulator through an executive order that would have only recommendatory powers

With bleak chances of Parliament giving its nod for setting up a Coal Regulator, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday approved setting up of the regulator through an executive order that would have only recommendatory powers.

"The CCEA at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh gave the nod to the proposal to set up coal regulator through an executive order as there was little or no chance of the Coal Regulatory Authority Bill 2013 getting the approval of Parliament. The new government can taken this initiative now and get the legislative approval after the general elections," a senior Minister said after the Cabinet meeting.

Under this arrangement, the regulator will be empowered to specify the principles and methodology for determination of price of raw coal and washed coal and any other by-product generated during washing. The regulator will also regulate methods for testing for declaration of grades or quality of coal, specify procedure for automatic coal sampling and adjudicate upon disputes between the parties besides monitoring closure of mines and approval of mining plans, among other things.

Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal had already indicated that that a non-statutory regulator for the coal sector will be set up through an executive order as enacting an legislation on the subject will take some time. The Bill for setting up a regulator for the sector is pending before Parliament. "The competent authority has decided that a non-statutory Regulator will be set up through an executive order as enactment of legislation would take some time," Mr. Jaiswal had stated.

The Ministry of Coal had introduced the Coal Regulatory Authority Bill, 2013 in the Lok Sabha on December 13, 2013.

Experts are of the view that setting up of the CRA would go a long way in cleaning up the muck that has accumulated in the crucial sector and in turn would make the sector competitive and increase private particiaption.

India’s coal imports have been on the rise, increasing to a record 135 million tonnes in the last fiscal year and are set to grow further.

Despite the country sitting on reserves of about 286 billion tonnes, domestic production has failed to keep pace with the demand from utilities, leading to chronic power shortages that have had a crippling effect on economic growth. More than half of the country’s 223.3 gigawatt installed capacity is produced from coal.