Faced with severe shortage of coal, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday authorised an Empowered Committee of Secretaries (ECS) for considering Coal India Limited’s (CIL) proposal to invest and acquire assets abroad.

The ECS was constituted for considering proposals to be taken up by the International Coal Ventures Ltd (ICVL) set up jointly by five PSUs — CIL, SAIL, RINL, NTPC and NMDC — for acquiring coal properties abroad.

“The ECS will also consider CIL proposals for investments in coal assets abroad, which are beyond the powers of its board. Such proposals will be submitted by CIL to the ECS and the recommendations will be placed before the CCEA,” Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram told newsmen after the CCEA meeting.

“In order to facilitate expeditious decision making, it is considered necessary to utilise the services of the earlier constituted ECS for ICVL, also for CIL’s investment proposals abroad, which are beyond the existing financial delegation to a navratna company — Rs. 1,000 crore,” he added.

A Planning Commission representative has also been included in the ECS and the objective behind the CIL move is to bring coking coal and high-grade ash thermal coal to India, to meet the national demand by acquiring coal properties abroad and to invest in joint ventures with coal mining companies. Demand for coal is forecast to increase sharply to about 731 million tonnes by 2011-12 from the present 474 million tonnes. Further, it is expected to be increase by 1,125 million tonnes by 2016-17 and by 2,555 million tonnes by 2031-32.

Keywords: Coal India


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