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No plan to end Coal India monopoly: Jaiswal

New Delhi: Coal India Ltd (CIL) may have been given a government direction to commit a minimum fuel supply to the power producers, but the government has put on hold its plan to end CIL monopoly in the wake of stiff opposition from the trade unions and political parties.

"Opening up of coal sector for commercial mining is not possible now in the wake of stiff opposition by trade unions and lack of consensus among political parties," Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told PTI.

A bill for amending the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act, which gives the exclusive rights of commercial coal-mining to the government-owned companies, has been pending in the Rajya Sabha for over a decade. "We do not yet have environment for commercial mining of the coal sector. There is a fierce opposition from the trade unions. (Besides) unless major political parties are ready for it, commercial mining would not start in the country," Jaiswal said.

As a holding company which 90 per cent government stake, CIL has seven subsidiaries which produce coal. Its eighth subsidiary is into design and planning of the mines. Together, they produce 436 million tonnes coal accounting for 80 per cent of the country`s production. The coal sector was nationalised in 1973.

CIL is not able to meet the total demand from the consumers and the country faces annual shortage of 140 million tonnes. Consequently, the bulk consumers like the power plants are forced to go in for coal imports.

As the government wants to improve the efficiency of CIL as also ensure fuel supply to the power producers, it has issued a Presidential direction to the PSU to enter into fuel supply agreement with the power plants. Coal India has to commit at least 80 per cent delivery failing which it will attract penalties.

The move, however, did not go well with the independent directors of the Rs 50,000 crore company. The board of directors is likely to meet next week. There has been a demand from certain quarters, particularly from the private sector to denationalise the coal sector.

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