Coal India arm Western Coalfields Ltd (WCL) has set an ambitious target of 100 million tonnes (MT) production by 2026-27 and plans to set up 20 more mines in the next four years, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Saturday. Inaugurating three mines of WCL through video conferencing, the road transport, highways and MSME minister also asked the company to employ more 'sons of the soil' in its projects.
"It (WCL) will have Rs 5,300 crore capital investment. I would request that it should look into inducting more local people even if norms are to be relaxed as there has been several disputed matters due to small issues," the minister said.
He also asked WCL to provide sand at lower cost to the poor for construction of houses. He said the company is already providing sand to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and other government entities at lower prices.
"There should be a transparent system for sand auction as often absence of it results in black-marketing and later legal battle. WCL is providing it to NHAI, PM Awas Yojana and government entities on lesser prices and it should provide it to poor people also for construction of houses," Gadkari said in his address.
He said proper planning in this regard could take WCL's income from sand to Rs 1,000 crore.
The minister said if transparent sand auction is followed in the coun it would fetch up to Rs 20,000 crore royalty for the government.
He also asked WCL to ensure that only good quality coal is provided to consumers, charge as per the calorific value of coal and bring in more reforms for quality control.
At the same time, he urged coal producers to aim for less imports and more exports.
"WCL has set a target to increase coal production... (to) 100 million tonnes (MT) by 2026-27," he said, adding that thermal power plants in Maharashtra will benefit from the increase in output.
WCL had achieved an output of 57.46 MT in FY20 against a target of 56 MT.
The three coal mines of WCL inaugurated on Saturday include two in Madhya Pradesh and one in Maharashtra.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by the chief ministers of the two states, besides Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi.
The Adasa underground to opencast mine in Nagpur, Maharashtra, has capacity of 1.5 MT, while Sharda and Dhankasa underground mines in Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh, have 0.4 MT and 1 MT capacity, respectively.
These mines will entail a total capital expenditure of Rs 849 crore with provision of direct employment to 647 persons.