"First you give it to the state and central PSUs. Thereafter, you make a pool of all actual users and have an auction.

"Then the extra resource, while preserving the character of Coal India, without disturbing it, you then start exploring the possibility of commercial mining," he said at an interaction with PTI journalists at the agency's headquarters here.

The government had last month promulgated an ordinance for auctioning the 204 coal blocks whose allocation was cancelled by the Supreme Court in September. In that ordinance, a provision was added for allowing commercial mining of coal by private companies. The first lot of 74 mines will be auctioned to specific end-users and allocated to state-owned entities by March.

Allowing private companies into commercial mining will help raise coal output as state monopoly Coal India Ltd, which produces about 80 per cent of the nation's coal, has missed all its output targets in last four years.

Jaitley, however, did not give a timeline for allowing commercial mining by private firms.

"I am not binding myself by time. But the Ordinance is logical," he said, adding, because of the coal scam the nation has lost 7 precious years and a lot of credibility that soured investment climate.

"The net gain has been that in a surgical manner we have found out a solution for our future. That this is how a natural resource has to be allotted," he said.

The auction and allocation of coal blocks through a transparent methodology would ensure that coal exploration will begin and the actual users will get the fuel rather than importing and putting a burden on current account.

"It is a very systematic ordinance," he said, adding, a Bill to convert the Ordinance into an Act will be brought in the Winter session of the Parliament which begins on Monday.

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