New Delhi: In a move to allow private companies to extract coal for commercial sale, the United Progress Alliance (UPA) is all set to make amendment to the Coal Mines (Nationalization) Act, 1973. For this the UPA is going to introduce the same bill in the Parliament which was prepared by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in 2000.

The meeting of Group of Ministers (GoM) on coal chaired by Union Finance Minster Pranab Mukherjee is slated to meet soon to discuss the issue. If the bill is approved by the GoM, it will be presented in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament.

The amendments in the Act will give a free hand to the private sector players in the mining process and the selling of coals. Presently, the Centre issues the guidelines and price list to the private companies for the mining and selling of coals.

Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal claims the bill is the need of the hour to curb the huge supply-demand gap of coal.

The Centre has allotted coal blocks to the private sectors, but the move has not yielded the desired results. These coal mines are likely to produce 5 billion tonnes of coal. As of now, only 28 coal blocks have started with the mining process. Last year only 3.46 ton coal could be extracted from the coal blocks.

The draft prepared by the Union Coal Ministry says that the amendment to the Coal Mines (Nationalization) Act will boost the coal production and simultaneously reduce the dependence on imported coal. 

In the current financial year, the supply-demand gap in the domestic industry is likely to increase to 14 crore tonnes of coal, which is expected to further rise to 23 crores in the next few years.