NEW DELHI, March 19 (Reuters) - India hopes to commission
three major railway lines in 2017 to move coal from existing and
planned mines of Coal India Limited, the junior coal
minister said, which the state-run miner considers crucial in
helping it meet production targets.
The world's biggest coal miner has repeatedly said its
success in achieving a government target of 615 million tonnes
of coal production by 2016/17 hinges on the key rail lines in
three coal-bearing states, apart from timely green approvals.
Any rise in local availability of coal in the energy-hungry
nation would help trim its import needs. India imported 112.8
million tonnes of thermal and coking coal between April and
January, up 29 percent from a year earlier, as domestic supply
fell short of surging demand in Asia's third-largest economy.
Coal India has set aside a total 70.45 billion rupees ($1.30
billion) for the three lines in north-eastern states -- the
Tori-Shivpur line in Jharkhand state, the
Bhupdeopur-Korichappar-Korba line in Chattisgarh and
Gopalpur-Manoharpur in Odisha state, PrakashBapu Patil told
"The commissioning of these rail projects would facilitate
coal evacuation (transportation) from ongoing and future
projects and thus help in increasing the production and supply
of coal from these coalfields," Patil said in a written reply to
the lower house of parliament.
The Tori-Shivpur line will connect the North
Karanpura-Auranga coalfields in Jharkhand and is intended to
handle 80 million tonnes of coal a year. The Odisha rail link is
seen transporting 30 million tonnes a year from the IB Valley
coalfield. Both are likely to be commissioned by end-March 2017.
The Chattisgarh rail link, which is seen transporting 40
million tonnes of the fuel from Coal India's Mand-Raigarh and
Korba fields, is likely to be operational "by the beginning of
13th Plan Period", Patil said, referring to the next five-year
plan period running from April 2017 to 2022.
Coal production has failed to keep pace with capacity growth
in the power sector in India, where energy output falls far
short of the demands of a fast-growing economy and an
increasingly affluent population.
The miner, which accounts for about 80 percent of the
country's coal output, has repeatedly lagged production aims due
to lower productivity for various reasons, including delays in
obtaining environment and forestry approvals for new mines.
It is set to miss its production target of 464 million
tonnes for the current fiscal year through March, but will meet
its supply aim of 470 million tonnes by drawing on stocks, its
chairman said last month.
($1 = 54.2050 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Malini Menon; editing by Keiron Henderson)