Hailing the reforms announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday, pertaining to coal and mining sector, Union Mines and Coal Minister Prahlad Joshi stated that the reform will open up the sector, in conversation with Republic TV. Stating that India's coal reserves were one of the world's largest, he said that this reform will end Coal India's monopoly. Moreover, he added that the Centre has allowed a composite licence for coal and minerals, improving exploration.
"These are big bang reforms in coal 7 mining industry in Independent India. We have one of the highest reserves in coal and yet we import. In the last FY 2020, the total import of coal amounted to Rs 1.71 lakh crores. Keeping that in mind, we thought what was going wrong and hence we opened the sale of coal blocks. If there was no COVID-19, the coal requirement would be 1.3 billion tonnes. Coal India was given a target of 1 billion tonnes and 300-400 million was a target from private industries," he said.
"While coal is a surfacial entity, minerals require more exploration. Hence we are providing composite licence to enhance competion," he added. On being asked about the scheme being similar to UPA govt, but was opposed by BJP then, Joshi replied," They started the coal block auction in 2006 and presented a bill in 2012 and passed it. But it was never implemented. This will be an open auction online and transparent, hence no talk of scams".
The Centre announced structural reforms in eight sectors in the fourth tranche of its economic package amid Coronavirus lockdown. The reforms introduced affect 8 sectors namely - Coal, defence production, minerals, civil aviation (Airports, Airspace Mgmt & MRO), power distribution in UTs, Space and atomic energy. The steps include Commercial mining in the coal sector, Seamless exploration-cum-mining-cum-production regime in the mineral sector, Corporatisation not privatisation of Ordnance Factory Board, overhauling of Airspace management, making India an MRO hub and auctioning of airports, privatisation of Power distribution in Union territories, Rs. 8000 crores to revamp Social infrastructure, Private participation boost in Space exploration and several reforms in the atomic sector.
On Tuesday, PM Modi announced a Rs 20 lakh crore economic package - including the previous monetary package and the liquidity measures announced by RBI till date (amounting to 10.26 lakh crore) to kickstart Indian economy's growth. He has also stated that the lockdown will be extended post-May 18, but will have relaxed restrictions. The MHA will announce guidelines of Lockdown 4.0 on Sunday.