Coal accounts for 60 percent of India’s energy use, runs most power stations and factories and enabled state-run company Coal India to have a blockbuster IPO last year raising a record $3.5 billion.
But despite having the world’s fourth largest coal reserves, India remains a major importer and the coal industry is pointing fingers at the environment ministry for part of the failure to properly develop coal fields.
“The main reason for slow progress (in developing coal fields) is the time taken for getting clearance (from the environment ministry),” Coal Secretary Alok Perti said during a coal conference on Tuesday.
Prior to 2009, getting forest clearance took 3-5 years instead of the stipulated 240 days, Perti said, highlighting the conflict between environment concerns and the need to build industrial capacity to power Asia’s third-largest economy.
The environment ministry shot to the spotlight under the stewardship of Jairam Ramesh, who set new standards in compliance and halted more than 60 big ticket projects and held up more than 450 of them.