In an attempt to arrest the last mile connectivity impediments, the ministry of coal with the help of the ministry of railways, will expedite 60 rail link projects.
“We have already signed a memorandum of understanding with two states—Jharkhand and Orissa, where the special purpose vehicle will be set up within this month, which will then execute the railway projects,” Anil Sawrup, Secretary, Ministry of Coal, informed POWER TODAY.
The government, in its initial stage has identified 60 rail link projects and the project numbers may likely to increase in the later stage of development.
Meanwhile, Swarup also informed that the Jharsuguda-Barpali rail line which is one of the three major railway lines for evacuation of coal in the country, has progressed well. “The first phase single line of Jharsuguda-Barpali line will be completed by June 2016,” he says.
Meanwhile, in a concurrent move, Coal India will also be adding 200 rakes over the next four years through its own funds and have placed an order for 34 rakes.
Underground coal mining
On a broader perspective, to increase the production of coal in India, and to completely eradicate the over dependence of import substance, the government is considering to improve the share of underground coal mining in India, which has slumped from 16.3 per cent to 8.8 per cent in the last decade.
To this, Anil Swarup says, “We are making attempts to see how the new technology (long haul) could be brought in, where in the underground mining could become economically viable proposition for the private players.”
Currently, underground coal mining is facing challenges of resources and lack of machinery. The most prevalent method of coal mining in India is opencast or surface mining, used for extracting coal deposits at shallow depths. It’s a more efficient process than underground mining, the latter needing high technical expertise and greater investments.