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New Delhi/Kolkata: Central trade unions in coal sector opposed opening up of commercial coal mining for private sector after the Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the methodology for auction of coal mines for sale of coal.

"We oppose the move as the decision was taken arbitrarily without discussing with us. We will soon come out with a decision," said the RSS-backed Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh affiliated Akhil Bhartiya Khadan Sangh President Brajendra Kumar Ray said.

Similarly CITU-affiliated All India Coal Workers Federation's General Secretary D.D. Ramanandan said opening up coal mining to private sector was an attempt to hand over coal mines to the foreigners.

INTUC-backed Indian National Mineworkers' FederationA General Secretary S.Q. Zama also opposed the step taken by the government.

The trade union leaders apprehend that the move would gradually ruin state-run Coal India as private players would not do mining ethically.

Currently, the private sector is allowed coal mining for captive use only.

On Tuesday, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the methodology for auction of coal mines/blocks for sale of coal under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

The opening up of commercial coal mining for private sector is considered as the most ambitious coal sector reform since the nationalisation of this sector in 1973 and the government claimed this reform was expected to bring efficiency into the coal sector by moving from an era of monopoly to competition. It will increase competitiveness and allow the use of best possible technology into the sector, it said.

The higher investment will create direct and indirect employment in coal-bearing areas especially in mining sector and will have an impact on economic development of these regions, a statement said.

"It will also lead to energy security as 70 per cent of India's electricity is generated from thermal power plants. This reform will ensure assured coal supply, accountable allocation of coal and affordable coal leading to affordable power prices for consumers," it added.

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