New Delhi: With state-owned Coal India (CIL) facing problems in enhancing production, the Environment Ministry is working on a mechanism for introducing online system for granting faster clearances to coal projects.

The development follows Prime Minister's Office directing CIL to sign fuel supply agreement with the power producers with 80 percent assured delivery, notwithstanding opposition from several CIL independent directors on the ground that the PSU was facing problems in increasing the fossil fuel output.

"The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has said that it was working on the format of introducing online mechanism for granting both environment and forestry clearances to the coal projects," a top government official said.

According to CIL, the inordinate delays in the receipt of green clearances for mining proposals were hurting the production of 200 million tonnes (MT). CIL's 168 projects are pending environment and forest clearances at the Centre and State levels.

CIL had earlier said that as per the stipulated procedure, forest clearances should be granted within 300 days. However, as per an assessment by the company, the process is taking as long as six years in some cases.

Apart from in-principle approvals, which get delayed by up to six years, final clearances take an equally long time, the company said.

The Coal Ministry had earlier asked the Group of Ministers on coal to introduce an online mechanism for granting green clearance to projects.

In a meeting held earlier this year under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also heading an inter-ministerial panel on issues hurting coal production, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal had requested for introduction of a new system for granting clearances.