Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Coal regulator Bill likely

Coal regulator Bill likely to be on Cabinet table today

The Union Cabinet, on Wednesday, is likely to consider a Bill for an independent regulator for the coal sector that will have a firm say in allocation of blocks and ensure strict enforcement of mining regulations.

Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, in a recent note to the Cabinet, had said that an independent regulator was needed considering the near-monopoly the producers in the coal industry enjoy and the fact that regulation was currently done by agencies closely associated with the government as well as the same producers.

The move follows the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) observations on the coal sector, which had sparking off a controversy in the recent times.

“Now that the concerned ministries have vetted the Bill, it is high time that we have an independent regulator,” a senior coal ministry official said.

The Independent Coal Regulatory Authority Bill, 2012, seeks to empower the proposed regulator to decide the fuel’s prices and to suspend or cancel authorisations of errant coal producers. The authority would also specify standards of performance and operational norms for coal companies and monitor the same.

“The proposed authority would determine the price of raw coal, washed coal and by-products,” Jaiswal had said in the note.

The Centre’s role would be restricted to policy-making while the regulator would ensure implementation of the policy, Jaiswal stated. However, it would advise the Centre on formulation of the policies.

To ensure independent functioning of the regulator, the ministry has also proposed a Coal Regulatory Authority Fund. Sources said the coal ministry’s role would be largely defined by the regulator and it would try and adhere to the advice extended by the regulatory mechanism. Once the Bill gets Cabinet approval, it would be likely tabled in Parliament in this Session or in the Monsoon Session.

- Priyadarshi Siddhanta : New Delhi, Wed May 09 2012, 00:58 hrs

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