Govt to ease coal mines approval, to set 30-day deadline

Ongoing coal shortage in India
The current coal shortage in India is caused by a sharp increase in power demand from the economy that is recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Narendra Modi government will simplify the process to clear coal mining projects to reduce approval deadline to 30 days from 90 days for already allotted blocks as it looks to increase participation in future auctions. The coal ministry has revamped the mining plan preparation and approval process with simplified guidelines and format to make operationalisation of mines faster by making the document easier to follow. This will also create a useful database on mining.

The new process will help the mine owner to get the mining plan from the mining plan preparing agency and get it certified by mining plan certifying agency and submit the plan to the ministry of coal for approval. The simplified process will reduce the time taken for the scrutiny of the plan.

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The government will accredit a nodal agency to accredit multi-disciplinary bodies that will prepare mining plans in line with the guidelines. Once certified by MPCA, a government committee will evaluate the mining plan and dispose it within the deadline.

The government will make the entire mining plan approval process online in the next phase to make it easier for mine owners to start production. This system will be integrated with the PARIVESH portal of the ministry of environment and forest and interfaces of other ministries to speed up the approval process.

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The coal ministry had allotted five coal mines after a long gap of four years following an electronic auction conducted in the first week of November. Under the terms of the auction, the successful bidders can sell a fourth of the total coal output in the local market. Currently several key industries such as steel and power are dependent on imported coal. The successful bidders in this round of auction are Birla Corporation, Prakash Industries, Powerplus Traders, and Vedanta.