How the coal in­dus­try turned around

Project Monitor - - FRONT PAGE - VENU­GOPAL PIL­LAI he mega five-day power T&D event Elecrama 2016 con­cluded in Ban­ga­lore on Fe­bru­ary 17, 2016. The event hosted over 1,000 ex­hibitors from In­dia and abroad that dis­played their ca­pa­bil­i­ties to a co­pi­ous stream of over 1 lakh vis­i­tors. Out­sid

ev­ery­one was push­ing me to make things hap­pen. Then, coal hap­pened. Now, ev­ery­one is push­ing me to “un­hap­pen” the coal! It is a very un­usual sit­u­a­tion. When I took over, I would get fran­tic calls from Chief Sec­re­taries com­plain­ing of no coal in­ven­tory,” re­called Swarup.

In FY15, In­dia had to im­port 212 mil­lion tonnes of coal. De­spite all its ad­verse eco­log­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions, coal was still crit­i­cal in meet­ing In­dia’s en­ergy needs. This year, coal pro­duc­tion grew by an un­think­able 9 per cent. Coal im­ports have fallen by 16 per cent, re­sult­ing in In­dia sav­ing $4 bil­lion in for­eign ex­change. “Coal pro­duc­tion this year has im­proved to such an ex­tent that I have be­come to­tally re­dun­dant. How­ever, it is a good thing to hap­pen!” re­marked

Mak­ing it hap­pen

Anil Swarup ex­horted the elec­tri­cal equip­ment in­dus­try to adapt it­self to the chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment. He ar­tic­u­lated the sit­u­a­tion as: “It is not nec­es­sar­ily sur­vival of the fittest. How do you come up with a strat­egy to sur­vive in an en­vi­ron­ment that is chang­ing very fast?”

Com­ing to the finer de­tails of how the coal turn­around was ef­fected, Swarup said that three fac­tors were re­spon­si­ble –land ac­qui­si­tion, faster en­vi­ron­men­tal clear­ance and im­prove­ment in avail­abil­ity of rail­way rakes. Over the past 15 months, the coal min­istry could ac­quire 2,500 ha of land for coal min­ing. For those that are an­tag­o­nis­tic to coal, Swarup as­sured that for ev­ery hectare of coal that is mined, af­foresta­tion (green belt) of 2.4 ha was cre­ated.

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