Inside this issue
The plant inhabitants of prehistoric swamps serve as a source of coal. Peat, lignite, bituminous and anthracite are the major varieties of coal found.
Coal blocks were allotted to private companies for captive mining through a 1993 amendment to the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act (1973). However, the CAG found that the blocks were not allotted in a transparent manner, neither had the companies begun production.
Domestic coal production has been falling behind demand. Allowing private merchant miners and removing the ‘electricity’ and ‘non-electricity’ differentiation could serve to strengthen the sector.
E-auctions can ensure transparency, prevent discrimination among buyers or favouritism, and let consumers have the coal of their choice.
Abundant and cheap availability of domestic coal led India to follow a coal centric development path in the past. Given the current trends in production and consumption, India is expected to exhaust its coal reserves within the next four decades.
Notwithstanding its polluting nature, coal remains the cheapest and most convenient fuel for meeting India’s energy needs. Since hydro power and nuclear power have safety issues, and green energy remains expensive, the answer lies in working towards cleaner coal-based technology.
Space constraints prevent Indian cities from laying sewerage lines for new or underserved pockets. DEWATS systems can help here.