Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday announced the launch of the auction process for 41 coal mines for commercial mining. Addressing the nation at the launch, PM Modi termed it as a step in right direction to make India self-reliant (Atma Nirbhar) in energy.
Making a pitch to revive the coal sector, he added that the move would open the sector to private players and reduce its dependence on imports.
The prime minister added that mining is a key source of input for many basic industries such as aluminum, power and steel. Lambasting past policies of keeping the sector closed, PM Modi pointed out, "India should be world's biggest coal exporter considering size of reserves."
He stated that although major scams had taken place in coal auctions earlier, the system has been made more "transparent" now.
The government is expected to garner Rs 33,00 crore of capital investment in the country over the next five to seven years.
PM Modi further highlighted that India will win the coronavirus war and turn the crisis into an opportunity.
The launch of the auction process not only marks the beginning of unlocking of the country's coal sector from the lockdown of decades but aims at making India the largest exporter of coal, the Prime Minister said.
Presently, despite being the world's fourth largest producer, he said India is the second largest importer of dry-fuel.
"Allowing the private sector in commercial coal mining is unlocking the resources of a nation with the world's fourth-largest reserves," he underscored.
PM Modi said the auction process would result in major revenues to states and create employment besides developing far-flung areas.
The commencement of the auction process for these blocks, part of a series of announcements made under 'Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan' is likely to contribute Rs 20,000 crore in revenues annually to state governments.
In line with the Prime Minister's self-reliance call, the aim behind the auction process is to achieve self-sufficiency in meeting energy needs and boosting industrial development.
The government has taken an important decision to open up the coal and mining sector to competition, capital and technology, he said.
Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi, who was also present during the launch event, said Rs 50,000 crore is being invested in the sector to jack up India's coal output to 1 billion tonne.
With a view to achieve self-reliance in the coal sector, the Ministry of Coal in association with FICCI launched the process of auctioning 41 coal mines under the provisions of Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act and Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act.
Upon attainment of peak rated capacity production of 225 million tonnes (MT), the government said, these mines will contribute about 15 per cent of the country's projected total coal production in 2025-26.
It will also lead to employment generation for more than 2.8 lakh people -- direct employment to approximately 70,000 people and indirect employment to approximately 2,10,000 people, as per the government.