The coal block allocation policy will be announced soon, Union Coal Minister Shriprakash Jaiswal said here on Wednesday. He also said that he hoped that issues with the trade unions over the second tranche of sale of Coal India Ltd. (CIL) stake would be resolved.

The minister said this while delivering a talk on the Indian coal sector. The minister also took a review meeting with CIL during the day.

He said that in its bid to increase production, CIL was scouting for overseas assets. Altogether 17 proposals have been short-listed from among 32 bids received in response to an expression of interest floated by CIL in February. In order to fast-track production, CIL was also looking at appointing mining development operators, Mr. Jaiswal said.

He said that during the XII Plan, Rs.25,400 crore would be invested by CIL and Rs.10,360 crore by Singareni Collieries Company Ltd.

“Increasing production is a big challenge due to problems with land acquisition and rehabilitation. There is also the issue of environmental concerns. Evacuation too is a problem with inadequate rail connectivity in most of the areas, Mr. Jaiswal said.

Stake sale

To a question on the proposed 5 per cent sale of CIL’s equity, (CIL had a 10 per cent divestment in 2010), he said that the Centre had decided on this and he was hopeful that all the stakeholders, including the trade unions, would come around and the matter would be resolved. At present, five central trade unions have said that they were opposed to the stake sale in-principle with one left trade union giving a three-day strike call in September.

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