India’s Coal Ministry has slashed is mining plan preparation and approval process as part of series of measures to ‘improve the ease of doing business’ and to reduce the gestation period for new coal mining projects.
The Ministry, in a statement issued on Monday, said that the process of mining plan preparation and approval would be completed within 30 days, against 90 days earlier. Necessary amendments to the Mineral Concession Rules 1960 to achieve this has been completed.
The simplified rules will enable coal mining lease holders to get a mining plan prepared by any mining plan preparing agency, get it certified by a designated mining plan certifying agency (MPCA) and submit it to the Coal Ministry. This would reduce the time taken from the preparation of a mining plan to its final approval, the statement said.
“To ensure the quality of preparation of a mining plan, government approved accrediting body would accredit agencies comprising multi-disciplinary teams, which would be recognised for preparation of a mining plan and for certification of parameters like scrutiny of geo-mining and techno-administrative angles of a project,” the statement said.
On certification by MPCA, the government would be in a position to grant speedier approvals of mining plans within total timeframe of 30 days.
The final objective would be to link the entire process of mining plan approval with platforms of allied government agencies like Forest, Environment and Climate Change Ministry and other organizations of the central and state governments to offer a single window link between all lease holders and governments at all levels, the Ministry said.
According to government data of September, there were a total of 120 ongoing coal mining projects at various stages of implementation of which 54 were facing delays for reasons of contractual disagreements and tardy grant of approval by various government agencies.
The attempt to simplify rules for mining plan and squeeze gestation periods of new coal projects was also against the backdrop of the government opening up commercial coal mining without any end-use restriction for foreign mining companies, a Ministry official said.
Earlier this year, the government ended nationalisation of commercial coal mining and permitted 100% foreign direct investments in coal mining. It plans to hold auctions of coal blocks before the end of December. But prospective foreign investors undertake project implementations under strict monitoring to eliminate and time and cost overruns and hence the onus is on the government to offer higher degree of ‘ease of doing business,’ if foreign mining participation at the forthcoming bidding was to be ensured, the Ministry official added.