Coal India’s one billion tonne target hinges on output, offtake

State miner Coal India faces twin challenges of delays in land acquisition and inadequate rail links as it attempts to double output to one billion tonnes by 2020.

Its Chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharyya told The Hindu that success rests on two things: “It is land on one had and rail links on the other. To me, output and offtake are synonymous.”

The one-billion tonne target was triggered by an off-the-cuff comment made by the Minister for Power Piyush Goyal during a review meeting. The public sector behemoth, however, has taken the comment seriously, and started preparing a roadmap.

The attempt is ambitious, given that Coal India has rarely been able to meet its annual growth targets. Also, it would require an annual growth rate of 12 per cent, against 7 per cent now. Delays in land acquisition and regulatory clearances from the Centre and State governments are key reasons for the production shortfall.

According to the company plan, two of its subsidiaries — Chhattisgarh-based South Eastern Coalfields and Odisha-based Mahanadi Coalfields — will account for half the targeted output. Of the rest, 300 million tonnes will come from existing mines. The remaining will be accounted for by new mines. Mr. Bhattacharyya referred to the one-billion tonne mark as a multi-barrier target, which embraces all the stakeholders — the State governments, the regulatory agencies, the railways.

To deal with difficulties in land acquisition and resettlement, the Coal India chief said dialogues with State governments would be key.

Completing critical rail links will be crucial too, he said. For instance, coal evacuation amounting to nearly a tenth of the 2020 target is dependent on the completion and upgrade of three tracks that pass through Jharkhand.

The company, with 2.80 lakh people on its rolls, is also betting majorly on technology. Terming upgradation of technology crucial, he said the use of the following has been proposed: high capacity equipment, operator-independent truck dispatch system, modern vehicle-tracking system, and laser scanners for ramping up production in opencast mines.

A coal project monitoring group portal has also been created for regular monitoring of project-related issues connected with different ministries and State authorities.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2021 7:12:29 PM |

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