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    May 2015

Ensure energy security


As the Narendra Modi Government looks towards developing the Indian industrial sector to ramp up the country’s dwindling economy, tremendous pressure is building up on the power sector to maintain an uninterrupted supply of energy to industries. Adequate availability of energy is one of the basic requirements for faster economic growth. The coal sector is the main provider of power in India. However, the sector has remained embroiled in controversies for the past few years. Executing coal sector reforms has always remained a grey area of the successive Governments at the Centre. In its efforts to bring reforms to the coal sector, the previous UPA Government not only failed but also ended up sullying its own image in the allocation of coal blocks. 

However, the situation is changing gradually with the Indian coal industry witnessing a great boost due to various initiatives taken by the Modi Government. The recent e-auction of coal blocks and stake sales in PSUs are some of the major steps taken by the Government to boost production and investment in the coal sector. The Government has set a target of producing one billion tonnes of coal by 2020. Ironically, India has to import coal in spite of the country having around 300 billion tonnes of coal reserves. 

In this edition, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup speaks to Bureaucracy Today on what ails the coal sector and the various steps being taken by his ministry for empowering the industry and to cut dependency on imports. 

Helping the Government realize its vision of one billion-tonne coal production by 2020, the coal PSUs are leaving no stone unturned. Most of the coal PSUs operate in the Naxalite-hit region where running an official extravagant operation of coal production is not only arduous but also risky. Our Cover Story presents the inspiring tale of the Jharkhand-based PSU, Central Coalfields Limited, which initiated several innovative measures and beating all odds, transformed itself from a stagnant to a vibrant company in just two years.

It is heartening to know how the coal PSUs are progressing towards the path of incredible growth braving recurring Naxal strikes, illegal mining and pilferages and the contentious land acquisition issue. However, the upward pressure on the power sector due to rapid industrialization would definitely widen the demand-supply mismatch in the coming years. To address these concerns, the Government must explore, support and promote unconventional alternatives to replace the conventional power generation methods. It should bring a pro-industry policy for setting up solar, wind, hydro and nuclear power capacities to increase the overall availability of energy so as to enable a sharp reduction in the energy demand and supply gap.
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