India is in talks with Mongolia for either acquiring stakes in coking coal assets or sourcing the fuel used in the steel and metallurgical industry, said petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan. He also said that the Centre wants to offer piped natural gas in Kolkata in the next one year and sought Mamata Banerjee government's continued support for the project.
The minister said India needs to import high-quality coking coal. "India has been importing coal from Australia but high-quality coking coal is also available in Mongolia and it can be imported into India at reasonable prices. We are in talks with the Mongolian government," Pradhan said in Kolkata on Saturday.
"We have also initiated talks on behalf of the Indian government with the Russian authorities and signed memorandum of understanding for cooperation by both governments in undertaking coking coal ventures. We will help Russia in exploration and extracting coal from mines while they would offer us dry fuel to be imported into India. Talks are being taken forward by respective public sector companies in India, including Coal India and Sail," said Pradhan.
The minister also said the Centre was keen to build infrastructure in the eastern and north-eastern parts of the country.
Almost half of the proposed Rs 102 lakh crore investment by the Centre in infrastructure over the next five years will be in eastern and north-east states, said Pradhan.
Citing examples of the Centre's investment initiatives in eastern India, Pradhan said: "Gail's pipeline has reached Durgapur and would be extended till Haldia via Kolkata in Bengal. ONGC will also soon undertake exploration for gas in the Bengal-Purnea basin while the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga (PMUG) project pipeline will pass through five Indian states - Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal."
The pipeline will connect towns such as Barauni, Bokaro, Ranchi, Sindri, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Angul, Cuttack, Bhubaneshwar, Paradip, Jamshedpur, Durgapur, Kolkata and Haldia. The state government has also decided to run LNG buses in the city, and LNG would be delivered to fuelling stations by tankers till the pipeline is complete.