The government will accord "high priority to implementation of three critical rail links for coal evacuation," says a Coal Ministry document.

With demand and supply gap continuously widening, the Ministry will also streamline procedures for environment and forest clearance by adopting online processing of applications, it said.

The government will also adopt cluster approach for environmental clearances to augment the production of coal from a group of mines, it added.

The Ministry, it said, will also ‘expedite identification of inviolate areas and eco-sensitive zones to plan for coal from new areas’.

State-owned Coal India (CIL), which accounts for over 80 percent of the domestic coal production, had earlier said that it is unable to tap the potential for supplying 300 MT of additional coal due to the absence of critical rail links for lifting the dry-fuel.

"We have a potential to supply 300 MT of additional coal from some of our collieries but we lack crucial rail infrastructure for transporting it," said Coal India Ltd Chairman and Managing Director S Narsing Rao.

"Under the circumstances, we are in a position to increase our annual growth to only 30 MT for the next few years," he had said.

If three critical rail links are fast-tracked, the company will ensure 300 MT additional supply to consumers who are facing fuel shortages, he had said.

The three rail corridors are: Tori-Shivpuri-Kathotia in North Karanpura, Jharkhand; Bhupdeopur-Korichhaapar to Mand Raigadh mines in Chhattisgarh; and Barpali-Jharsuguda in IB Valley, Odisha, which are under different phases of development.

Sources said that difficulties being faced in executing these three projects, entailing Rs 7,500 crore expenditure, relate to forestry and environment clearances besides land acquisition, rehabilitation/resettlement as well as law and order problems.

The government had earlier said that two rail projects, including Tori-Shivpur, are likely to be completed by the end of 2017 and will facilitate coal transportation besides pushing up production of the fuel.

The demand-supply gap of coal is likely to widen to 185 MT in 2016-17. The country had to import a record 171 MT coal last financial year to meet domestic requirement.


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