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Pralhad Joshi takes charge as coal minister; What are the challenges before him


New Delhi, May 31: Pralhad Joshi, who took over the charge of coal, mines and parliamentary affairs ministries, on Friday said the government, which has got pro-incumbency mandate, will work hard to live up to the expectations of the people.

Pralhad Joshi took over the charge of coal, mines and parliamentary affairs ministries today

"Under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, this is the government which has got mandate -- pro-incumbency mandate. Pro-incumbency mandate means people's expectations are very high and to come up to the expectations of people, you should work very hard and under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, we will do that," he told reporters here.

He took over the charge of both the coal and mine ministries after performing puja.

Earlier in the day, he also took over the charge of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

"At this moment, I would like to tell only one thing. Honourable Prime Minister has reposed a great confidence in me. Today, formally, I have taken over the charge. I will take a full briefing shortly... After having seen five years of the government of Shri Narendra Modi, people are feeling that this time, he will deliver more," he said.

Now, as far as challenges and issues in the coal and mines departments are concerned, he said he will discuss the same with the officials of the ministries concerned.

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"...met the prime minister after becoming the minister and he (told us) to start afresh and give the results. The message which he has given, we will do that," he added.

Joshi took over the charge of the coal ministry at a time when the auctions for commercial mining are yet to begin. Pralhad, a die-hard RSS loyalist and a long-time BJP worker, is a fourth time Member of Parliament from the saffron party's bastion of Dharwad, Karnataka.

He took over the helm as the minister of coal and mines, at a juncture when the Centre has called off the auction of coal mines. Lack of interest from bidders forced the Centre to cancel the sixth and seventh rounds of coal mine auctions, under which it was planning to put on sale 19 blocks.

The government had in 2015 annulled the process for fourth round of coal block auctions on account of poor response from bidders in sectors like steel, as well as depressed commodity prices and adverse market conditions.

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In 2017, the government annulled the fifth round of coal mines auction due to poor response from bidders. Under the provisions of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 and the rules made under it, 85 coal mines have been successfully allocated so far. Of these 85 coal mines, 25 have been allocated through electronic auction and 60 have been allocated to the government companies through allotment.

In a major reform in the coal sector since its nationalisation in 1973, the government earlier allowed private companies to mine the fossil fuel for commercial use, ending the monopoly of state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL). The opening up of commercial coal mining for the private sector is the most ambitious coal sector reform since the nationalisation of this sector, the government had earlier said.

Currently, the private sector is allowed coal mining for captive use only. The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs has earlier approved the methodology for auction of coal mines or blocks for sale of coal under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015, and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. Following nationalisation, only CIL was allowed to sell coal.


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