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Friday, December 2, 2011

Minister seeks action on poor coal output

Friday,Dec2, 2011

RANCHI: Expressing dissatisfaction with the performance of government-run Central Coalfields Limited (CCL), Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) and Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), Union coal minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal on Thursday warned of taking action against the officials of these companies, including those serving in the coal ministry found responsible for poor performance.

Talking to newsmen after a review meeting at the CCL headquarters, he said, "It was only because of the poor performance of CCL in terms of coal off-take and production that he is reviewing it on a regular basis. We are concerned because of the increasing demand of coal from all over the country in the wake of the rising demand for power. The demand of existing power plants is growing each day and there is a long queue of new power sector units waiting for our commitment to fulfill their requirement of coal."

According to him, "Though we have asked the upcoming power production units to fulfill their demands by importing coal, we also have to augment our production to meet the demands," he said.

He admitted that while some projects are pending

because of forest clearance, environmental clearance and many other issues, a large number of allotted coal blocks have been cancelled because they failed to become operational within the given timeframe.

When asked about the cancellation of coal block allotted to Jharkhand, Jaiswal said chief minister Arjun Munda met him in New Delhi over the issue and his ministry is looking into the matter.

"As far as the cancellation of the coal blocks allotted to the state government and the state-owned enterprises are concerned, a review committee has been constituted under the coal ministry to look into the matter," said Jaiswal. He also admitted that along with the state government even officials of National Thermal Power Corporation ( NTPC) approached the ministry to apprise them of some practical difficulties because of which mining could not be started in the allotted coal blocks.

Answering yet another question on companies obtaining coal linkage and illegally selling it to non-coal traders at the higher market rate as unearthed by CBI recently, Jaiswal initially expressed ignorance about such incident and prompted CCL CMD R K Saha to chip in and clarify this. Saha said the company is trying to figure out such companies and is canceling supply to them. "A certificate is provided by the state government to a non-coal company for coal linkage, following which we verify at our own end but owing to lack of manpower, the process has been partially affected," he said.

Jaiswal admitted that the coal sector has been hit by

corruption for the last 15 years and the ministry is trying to tighten its noose around people, including officials of the companies.

(sourced TimesofIndia)

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