Coal thermal power power electricity piyush goyal
Coal thermal power power electricity piyush goyalReuters file

India will double coal production within four years even if private companies do not contribute to the effort, said power and coal minister Piyush Goyal. The government will not lure private companies to achieve its target, Reuters quoted him as saying.

India has targeted coal production of 1 billion tonnes by 2020, more than double from 494.23 million tonnes produced in 2014-15, Goyal had informed the Lok Sabha on March 3 in a written reply. "That target I will meet even if (private companies) don't come in," he told the agency, adding, "In the days to come I'll be auctioning out more mines. I've already got my plans in place."

Most private companies that had won captive mines in auction last year have not commenced mining citing inability to pass rising costs to end-users, after having bid aggressively during the auction. The minister laid the blame for aggressive bidding on the companies.

"These coal mines were given out by a system where the price benefit would go out to the people of India. It was a transparent bid by independent people without any compulsion to bid any price. They bid and they got it," Goyal told the agency.

Coal is predominantly produced in Asia's third-largest economy by the state-run miner, Coal India. The company produces about 81 percent of India's coal from its 430 mines, of which 227 are underground while 175 are open cast and 28 are mixed ones.

Coal India has a Rs 57,000-crore investment plan to be spent over five years to reach 1 billion tonnes of coal output by 2019-20. In the first seven months of the current financial year, India imported 108.36 million tonnes, 4.56 percent less than 114 million tonnes imported during the corresponding period last financial year, said a government statement released last December.