No hike in coal prices this year: Bagrodia

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Nagpur, May 25 (UNI) Union Minister of State for Coal Santosh Bagrodia today said there would be no increase in the prices of coal by any subsidiary of Coal India Limited (CIL) in the country this year.

Speaking to reporters here, Mr Bagrodia said the government had decided to keep the notified prices of coal steady during 2008-2009. The freeze on prices had been imposed in view of the widespread inflation, he said.

''We want to make our own small contribution to control inflation when the prices of most commodities are going through the roof,'' Mr Bagrodia said.

The price freeze was also to increase productivity, as it would prompt the public sector coal companies to increase their production, he said.

In addition to the price freeze, the Ministry had also decided to increase the quota of coal to be sold through e-auction from three million tonnes last month to 15 million tonnes in May in an effort to keep prices down, Mr Bagrodia said.

The targeted growth rate in coal production had been increased from six per cent to 12 per cent, the Minister said.

The production target was now 425 million tonnes against 405 million tonnes originally. The government wanted 'an economy of surplus rather than an economy of shortage,' he said.

Asserting that there was actually no shortage of coal in the country, Mr Bagrodia squarely blamed transporters, including the railways and the power sector, for the apparent shortfall.

''There is lack of transportation. Wagons are not available in sufficient numbers to transport coals. Trucks are also not available because of mismanagement by fleet owners,'' he said.

Power generation companies did not stock the mandatory 21-day stock of coal in their yards and then complained about shortage, the Minister rued.

Everybody concerned must fulfil their responsibility, he said, adding that there was a shortage of only about ten million tonnes in the country.

Replying to questions, Mr Bagrodia said there was no proposal to export coal, since the domestic demand itself was just barely being met. There was also no move to make a disinvestment in one CIL, he asserted.

He said the Ministry was carrying out a rationalisation of all the coal linkages to thermal power plants all over the country. This would ensure that power plants would get coal from a mine as close as possible, he added.

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