Planning Commission Member, B.K. Chaturvedi on Tuesday called for private sector participation in mining of huge coal reserves in the country which could well lead to infusion of latest technology and pep up production to meet the rising needs of various sectors.

Speaking at a national conference on ‘re-energising Indian Coal Sector: Interventions Through Policy, Competition and Technology’ organised by FICCI, Mr. Chaturvedi said there was a dire need to revamp the entire coal sector in the country.

“The government should look at a new policy which allows private players to take up coal mining. If opening up of the sector to the private players is not feasible, the government should allow some of the major companies to invest and use the best technologies to mine coal in India by substantially incentivising their initiative,” he remarked.

He said that one should realise that major coal mining is now being carried out in the Eastern part of India and it needs to be transported to the power stations. Hence, there is a need to ensure that adequate transportation facilities are in place for evacuation of this mined coal. All means of transportation must be utilised for this purpose be it inland waterways, railways or roads. Waterways are the cleanest method and railways an economical and faster option, he added.

Mr. Chaturvedi emphasised that environment and coal mining must work in conjunction and once the coal mines are evacuated completely, full afforestation drive could be taken up in the exhausted mine area. Similarly, he said the time taken for clearances and land acquisition by the State Governments must be revisited.

“The State Governments can be incentivised for expediting the process and a prescription is needed in the form of a policy clearly defining the process and incentives for addressing the rehabilitation issue as well,” he added.

Additional Secretary, Coal, A.K. Dubey said technology needs upgradation in a big way. However, technology adaptation should take place only after considering the geographical design of the land. It is not only about adopting a technology and the means of ownership is also not important but it is critical to achieve economic efficiency with mechanical efficiency.