Coal India is gearing up for around Rs 42,000-crore investment in the next few years as its projects, stuck under environment norms, start getting clearances.
his also involves foreign acquisitions, the clearances for which are likely to come in the next few weeks. "With a new environment minister at the centre, things have already started to look bright.
We hope the ministry of environment and forest will slowly start clearing projects that were held up over the last several months," said a senior coal ministry official on condition of anonymity.
"The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), in a change of stand, has started listening to problems and suggestions of companies like Coal India affected by pollution norms. We also hope that the bar on mine expansion and new projects due to pollution index will gradually be lifted," he said.
The ministry has already lifted the pollution index-related ban on three major For Coal India projects. These are for the Talcher mines and Ib Valley mines in Orissa and Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh. "We are expecting clearances for our Korba projects in the next one month," the senior coal ministry official said.
"The Chaturvedi Committee which released its draft report on go, no-go classification of forest area has also recommended that each project be evaluated on the basis of merit. Areas like sanctuaries and others will have to be marked as permanently no-go," said the official.
"As projects start receiving clearances, a large part of the cash reserves of Rs 51,000 crore will be used up gradually over the next few years. In my calculation, we will need around Rs 42,000 crore in projects envisaged by Coal Videsh, for washeries as well as projects in the pipelines," said A K Sinha, director-finance said.
According to initial estimates, Coal India will require about Rs 7,000 crore for setting up some 40-odd washeries. It has earmarked about Rs 6,000 crore for foreign acquisitions and about Rs 29,000 for expansion and new mining projects.
"There are some 163 projects in the pipeline that have received all kinds of clearance with a total production capacity of 440 million tonnes. These will come at an investment of Rs 28,860 crore and will attain full capacity in the next five years.
Nevertheless, about 221 million tonnes of production will be achieved from some of these projects during 2011-12. The rest will come in the next five years," Coal India chairman N C Jha said.
"If we receive the pending clearances, we can increase production capacity to 625 million tonnes soon. Expansion of existing projects can give us another 190 million tonnes. All this can give us production capacity of about 800 mt in the medium term," said Sinha.