Economic Survey 2013: Fast-track green approvals for 795 MT coal output in 2012-17

Delays in environment clearances needs to be addressed on a fast-track basis for achieving coal production target of 795 MT during the current five year plan (2012-17), the Economic Survey said today.

"Problems like delays in obtaining environmental clearances, land acquisitions and rehabilitation need to be suitably addressed in fast-track mode to achieve the 12th Plan targets for coal production," the Survey tabled in Parliament said.

It should, however, be ensured that there is a balance between growth needs and environmental concerns while undertaking such steps.

The survey also said efforts should be made to improve competition and efficiency in the sector which may call for structural reforms.

Though India has large reserves of fossil fuel, still the demand of coal is exceeding the availability of fossil fuel from domestic sources with Coal India (CIL) not been able to meet its coal production target of the 11th Plan period.

"Domestic coal supplies are, therefore, not assured for coal-based power projects planned during the 12th Plan. Hence it is essential to ensure that domestic production of coal increases from 540 million tonnes (MT) in 2011-12 to the target of 795 million tonnes at the end of the Plan," it said.

However, even with this increase of 255 MT there will be a need to import 185 MT of coal in 2016-17, which may further add to the financing cost of power projects. The survey also cautioned against delays in finalisation of fuel supply pacts.

"The 12th Plan aims to add another 88,000 MW. Delivery of this additional capacity would critically depend on resolving fuel availability problems, especially when half the generated capacity is expected to come from the private producers," the Survey said.

CIL, which accounts for over 80 per cent of the domestic coal production, had earlier said inordinate delays in the receipt of green clearances for mining proposals have stalled the investment decisions on 67 new projects, it said.

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