We Have Sufficient Coal Reserves To Last For More Than 100 Years

Says Gopal Singh, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Central Coalfields Ltd

Please give us an overview of Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) operations?
For development of any society, state and country or any sector of the GDP, electricity is the basic ingredient, which must be available at an affordable cost. Our basic thrust is providing electricity at an affordable cost. Fortunately, we have sufficient reserves of coal in our country. It is necessary as more than 54% of electricity is based on coal. We have other sources for generation of electricity like natural gas and oil, but the reserve we have today may last for another 25-30 years. Even uranium reserve is less. Especially after Japan debacle, even countries like France planning to switch over to some other modes. Also, solar energy is very costly and is around Rs 10 per unit. Whereas, coal based electricity costs around Rs2 to Rs3 per unit and is the cheapest source of electricity.

However, do you still see a demand-supply mismatch in India’s coal sector?
We have sufficient coal reserves to last for more than 100 years to meet the entire electricity demand of the country. We are quite fortunate due to this. In addition, we have the world’s largest miner – Coal India Ltd. We have the technology. We have everything. In spite of that we are not able to produce the desired quantity of coal. As a result there is a huge gap between demand and supply. For example, last year there was a gap of 168 million tons of coal to meet the demand and supply. Now, if we calculate 168 million tons of coal in terms of forex, it amounts to 21 billion dollars. This is huge and it disturbs country’s Current Account Deficit (CAD) and balance of payments. We have to keep in mind that petroleum, gold and coal actually affects CAD of the country as whole. Now we don’t have that much petroleum or gold reserves. And there we have an edge with coal resource.
However, in spite of having so much of reserve, technology and the world’s largest miner in our country, we are not able to meet the country’s demand. It is really disturbing. CCL’s priority is to maximize the production to the extent possible. Fortunately, Coal India has eight subsidiaries, including CMPDI. But it is basically a planning and design organization and other are seven coal producing subsidiaries. Out of these seven co-producing subsidiaries, three subsidiaries— South Eastern Coal Fields Ltd in Chhattisgarh, Mahanadi in Odisha and CCL in Jharkhand are important and these three coal companies had equal potential to produce in terms of reserve. If you consider quality then CCL has A-grade material also. So CCL is not inferior to those two companies. But those two companies have already crossed the mark of 100 million ton per year production while this company’s production has been stagnating around 48 million ton for last so many years. I joined this company in 2012. I spent my initial 21 years in the company, so I know the strengths and weakness of the company. I ask myself, why cannot CCL produce at least at par with those two companies if not more?

What according to you are the main hurdles and measures that need to be adopted?
The challenge before us is that either we live with problems that we have and surrender before them that by saying we cannot do anything. According to me for every problem there is a solution. Keeping in mind all these, we have introduced Kaya Kalp model. This model is essentially based on three values: Philanthropy, Ethics and Transparency. In a state like Jharkhand, this model is working well. We have ultimate objective to achieve inclusive growth so that sustainable development can be achieved as unless stakeholders are being taken care of, we cannot achieve that goal. Land acquisition was our biggest challenge. We are the only company, may be in India, which is providing employment for every two acres of land. This ultimately helps us in getting new land and open new projects, and in meeting the gap between demand and supply of the coal production for the country as a whole. I must mention that this year we have been able to open 4 green field projects.

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