While there would indeed be challenges ahead of Coal India Ltd in reaching its annual production target of 1 billion tonnes by 2020, the PSU’s recent performance inspires confidence that the target would be reached, according to Anil Swarup, Secretary, Ministry of Coal. He was speaking to the media at the sidelines of a recent convention organized by industry body IEEMA, in Mumbai. “There would indeed be challenges but what has happened in the past one year gives us hope that we should be able to reach that 1 billion-tonne target,” noted Swarup. Coal India, it may be mentioned, has targeted to nearly double its annual production level by 2020 from the existing level of around 500 million tonnes.
Elaborating on his optimism further, Swarup asserted that in FY15, the annual production level of Coal India was 32 million tonnes more than in FY14. More significantly, this incremental growth of 32 million tonnes was more than twice the comparable cumulative achievement over the past four years. According to information filed by Coal India on stock exchanges, the company in FY15 produced 494 million tonnes that was 32 million tonnes (or 7 per cent) higher than the 462 million tonnes produced in FY14. Production in FY15, however, fell 9 per cent short of the targeted 507 million tonnes for the year. In the current fiscal year, 2015-16, Coal India is expected to clock a production growth of 9 per cent. “This gives us hope that it (target achievement) will happen,” the Coal Secretary said.
Swarup however cautioned that the real challenges ahead of Coal India would be evacuation of coal, land acquisition and securing timely forest clearance. However, it is detailed planning that will help Coal India realize its target. “We have worked out a clear-cut plan for each mine. It is a very detailed plan giving mine-wise understanding on how Coal India will reach from Level A to Level B,” was how Swarup put it. In terms of evacuation, Anil Swarup, noted that three critical railway lines are currently under construction. “We are very, very hopeful that they will be ready by December 2017. One of them will be ready by July 2016,” noted Swarup without naming the routes.
While these three crucial lines will be taken up by the Indian Railways on its own, there will be as many as 60 other railway evacuation lines that will be developed by joint ventures where state governments will also be seen participating in association with Indian Railways.
PPP has not failed: In a question-answer session during the IEEMA convention, Anil Swarup was fielding a question on why the public-private partnership ideology has failed in India. Swarup, known to be a staunch believer in PPP denied that the philosophy has been a letdown. “The PPP model has not failed, a particular model of PPP might have failed,” he said. He gave the instance of the national highway development programme where concession agreements have been signed even when the stipulated 80 per cent land acquisition was not completed. The private developer had the opportunity to closely examine the situation, Swarup noted. Given the example of his own ministry, he explained that one of the reasons the coal auctions were successful was that every document (concession agreement) was discussed upfront. Complete transparency was maintained, Swarup said. The coal secretary was even of the view that apart from infrastructure, PPP had a great scope in the social sector as well.