Parliament on Thursday passed a bill that will remove end-use restrictions for participating in coal mine auctions and open up the coal sector fully for commercial mining for all domestic and global companies.
The Mineral laws (Amendment) Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha with 83 MPs voting in its favour and 12 against. The Lok Sabha has passed the bill last Friday.
Replying after a brief discussion on the bill, Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi said the legislation will help in bring more FDI in the coal and mining sector, and boost economy.
The minister said the bill was important as India should be using its own natural reserves, instead of importing coal worth Rs 2.7 lakh crore.
“We have to produce coal and reduce imports,” he said adding more domestic output would lead to more electricity generation and also cut oil import bill.
The minister also assured the MPs that the government will strengthen the state-owned Coal India Limited.
“CIL will be strengthened. I have already given it a target to produce 1 billion tonne by 2023-24. There will be no problem in CIL,” Pralhad Joshi said.
According to the minister, the legislation will bring a sea change in the sector.
Pralhad Joshi said the stress should be on exploiting reserves without harming the environment.
The minister said India has one of the largest reserves of coal in the world and if it is not mined it would turn into mud.
Earlier, 12 MPs from different parties expressed their views on the bill.
The House saw division of votes on the bill after Elamaram Kareem of CPI (M) pressed for it.
The Bill replaces the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
The ordinance, which was cleared by the cabinet in January, had brought amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, and the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.