Union Minister of State for Coal Shri Prakash Jaiswal has said that several projects have been delayed or put on hold on account of no environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

The Union Minister said that a proposal has been made to the Environment Ministry under which a massive tree plantation drive would be initiated on three-fourth of the land acquired by the Coal Ministry for the execution of the expansion projects. “The agreement would be for 10 years”, Mr. Jaiswal told reporters here on Friday.

He said despite the adverse circumstances, coal production in the country has registered an increase of 8 per cent. Mr. Jaiswal said the coal producing States have been battling law and order problems like Naxalite activities. Coal officials posted in these States have either been kidnapped or murdered and there have also been reports of coal theft, he added.

Mr. Jaiswal defended the disinvestment of the profit-making Central public sector undertaking, Coal India Limited , by stating that it would ensure transparency and enhance performance. According to the Minister, Coal India has recorded a profit of Rs. 38,000 crore. The disinvestment proposal recently approved by the Manmohan Singh Cabinet entails 10 per cent disinvestment of Coal India, of which 1 per cent share would be reserved for the Coal India subsidiaries and its employees.

Mr. Jaiswal said the IPO would be launched either in September or October 2010 with the money generated from the share market to be spent on welfare schemes for the poor and deprived sections. He said coal was being imported from South and East Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia for fulfilling the country's coal needs. Two coal blocks in Mozambique have also been bought, Mr. Jaiswal said.

He said 55 per cent of India's energy requirements were dependant on coal and this dependence would increase in the future.