The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a policy for utilisation of non-minable land for development and setting up of infrastructure relating to coal and energy. The approved policy provides a clear policy framework for utilisation of lands that are no longer suitable or economically viable for coal mining activities; or lands from which coal has been mined out/de-coaled and has been reclaimed.
“With the objectives of facilitating utilisation of lands which are mined out or are practically unsuitable for coal mining and for increasing investment and job creation in coal sector, the Union Cabinet… has approved the policy for use of land acquired under the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition & Development) Act, 1957 (CBA Act),” the coal ministry said in a statement.
The government coal companies, such as Coal India Ltd (CIL) and its subsidiaries shall remain owners of these lands acquired under the CBA Act and the policy allows only leasing of the land for the specified purposes given in the policy. The government coal PSUs can deploy private capital in joint projects for coal and energy-related infrastructure development activities, the statement said.
The government company which owns the land would lease it for a specific period given under the policy and the entities for leasing will be selected through a transparent, fair and competitive bid process and mechanism in order to achieve optimal value. The lands will be considered for activities such as setting up washeries, coal gasification and coal-to-chemical plants and to set up or provide for energy related infrastructure.
Under the approved policy, establishment of various coal and energy related infrastructure, without transfer of ownership from government companies, would lead to generation of a large number of direct and indirect employment opportunities, the statement said. This unlocking of non-minable land for other purposes will also help Coal India to reduce its cost of operations and set up coal-related infrastructure and other projects, it added.
The proposal to utilise land for rehabilitation purposes would ensure proper utilisation of land and would eliminate wastage of all-important land resource, avoid acquisition of fresh chunks of land for rehabilitation of project affected families, eliminate loading of additional financial burden on the projects and increase profit. It will also address the demand of the displaced families as they always prefer to stay as close as possible to their original residential places. It will help in obtaining local support for coal projects and also providing land to the state government for afforestation in lieu of forest land diverted to coal mining, the statement said.
The policy will help in realizing the goal of self-reliant India by encouraging domestic manufacturing, reducing import dependence and job creation among others. The policy will unlock land for various coal and energy infrastructure development activities that would encourage investment in backward areas of the country. Utilisation of already acquired land would also prevent fresh acquisition of land and related displacement and would promote local manufacturing and industries, the statement said.