Parliamentary panel on coal favours rationalisation of rail freight, port handling charges


A parliamentary standing committee has suggested to the coal ministry to pursue with concerned ministries over rationalisation of railway freight and port handling charges to bring down the cost of the key commodity.

The report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Coal, Mines, and Steel was placed in Parliament on Thursday.

The panel observed that coal companies have leveraged various measures, such as mechanisation, optimisation of resources, technological advances, and minimising non-essential expenditure, to contain coal prices, considering its impact on inflation and the power sector.

“The committee also desires that the government pursue rationalisation of railway freight charges and port handling charges with the concerned ministries,” it said.

The panel also directed the Coal Ministry to apprise it of the steps taken to ensure that lower-priced coal is dispatched to power plants and other customers in the southern and western parts of India.

Acquisitions abroad

Noting that Coal India Ltd. (CIL) is not pursuing any blocks in foreign countries, the Committee emphasised that the mining behemoth can still pursue overseas acquisition of coal blocks after detailed analysis and study, especially of low-ash coking coal, which is not found in abundance in India and is imported.

“Considering the existing coal resources in the country, the committee would like the Coal Ministry/CIL to explore the acquisition of coal blocks abroad,” the committee added.

Coking coal

The panel said that given the limited availability of high-quality, low-ash coking coal in the country, there is no option but to import the commodity to bridge the demand-supply gap through imports.

The Ministry has launched the coking coal mission, under which the objective is to increase production from 45 million tonnes in FY21 to 140 MT in FY30, which includes 105 mt from CIL. Focus has been on exploration of coking coal blocks by the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI), the committee noted.

“The committee would like to be apprised of the year-wise perspective plan prepared by the government to achieve the ambitious target of achieving 140 MT of coking coal by FY20,” the panel added.

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