Jamshedpur: Taking a tough stand on the unproductive firms in the coal sector, Union Minister Shriprakash Jaiswal informed on Wednesday that the Centre has decided to cancel the leases of those who are deliberately under-performing in this sector.

"We are identifying such non-performers in the coal sector and the process is near completion," Jaiswal said after being awarded 23rd Michael John Gold Medal by Tata Workers Union (TWU).

According to him, a total of 208 coal blocks have been allotted to private and public sector units in the country during the last one decade.

"The performance of several lease holders of coal blocks has not been upto the expectation. Some of them are deliberately doing so," he said, adding that "the Centre has decided to cancel the lease of such defaulters".

The demand for coal has increased in view of the industrial growth in the country and the coal production of the country is not able to meet the demand, he said.

Asked whether any steps were initiated to explore coal in the country, Jaiswal said we have identified 52 locations in the country to explore coal but stressed to improve production level in the existing facilities.

Asked about possibilities of Coal India Limited exploring coal abroad, he said, "We will think about exploring abroad if required. Coal India Limited has already floated tenders in this regard."

Referring the underground fire in coal belt of Jharkhand including Jharia, he said Centre has sanctioned Rs 10,000 crore to rehabilitate the affected people.