Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

‘CIL will have an edge if commercial mining begins’

- Aman Malik aman.malik@hindustant­imes.com

NEW DELHI: Sutirtha Bhattachar­ya has stressed on ramping up output and improving profitabil­ity since he took over as Coal India chairman in January this year. Bhattachar­ya spoke to HT on the company’s production target of 1 billion tonnes by 2020 and how the government is moving actively to step up coal output. Excerpts.

This has been a good year for Coal India with output going up...

When you are doing well it means you are getting access to land and resources better and your contracts and tenders are getting settled faster. We have been trying to do that and the government has been leading from the front.

You have set a production target of 1 billion tonnes by 2020. How achievable is that?

I find huge persuasion there. Even the Prime Minister takes it up in video conference­s with chief secretarie­s of states. Once the Prime Minister reviews it at the highest level, most of the issues will be resolved. But primarily, the people have to own up the target.

CIL acquired 2,000 hectares of land last year and received about 40 clearances. How did you manage to do that?

We involved state government­s. I am bringing on board retired railways executives and state government officials who are opinion makers, and who know laws and processes. State government­s generally look at issues through the eyes of revenue and forest department officials, just as the government looks at coal issues through Coal India. I am trying to combine all the eyes. We must look at a minimum time limit. If it can happen in month, it should happen in one month.

Power firms often complain about the quality of coal supplied….

There is a perception in some cases that the quality being supplied is inferior. So, let the third party (sampling) system sink in. Power companies must honestly try to implement the system. In the last six months, have you seen NTPC complainin­g bitterly against us? We in fact received a letter from NTPC praising us.

What will be the impact of commercial mining on Coal India, if and when it kicks off?

We will enjoy the first-mover advantage to a great extent. Till such time that the Supreme Court stuck down the (captive) mines, (private sector) companies were under no illusion that it was going to be cancelled. In my mind they are in the same mental state of operating a mine as before.

What will happen if internatio­nal coal mining firms come in with superior technology?

It was not prevented earlier also. If you are bringing in high technology, you are talking of undergroun­d mining. But even today, most mines would be open-cast mines. In evolution, you cannot stop certain things from happening.

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