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"The COVID-19 crisis has taught India to be self-reliant. India will reduce its dependence on imports. To make India self-reliant in the energy sector, a major step is being taken today," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, while addressing the launch event through video conferencing.
The country has made the big decision of opening up the coal and mining sector to competition, capital, participation and technology, PM Modi said, as the central government launched the e-auction process for coal mines.
"We are not just launching the auction for commercial coal-mining today, but bringing the coal sector out of decades of lockdown," he said. The Prime Minister also said the country is still the world's second biggest importer of coal, despite being the second largest producer of the dry fuel with the world's fourth largest reserves.
The rollout of commercial coal mining is expected to boost private sector participation which will in turn lead to higher production and enhance competition. "Allowing private sector in commercial coal mining is unlocking resources of a nation with the world's fourth-largest reserves," PM Modi said.
The Prime Minister also said the auction process will result in major revenues to states and create employment besides developing the far-flung areas.
The auctioning of 41 coal mines is expected to garner Rs 33,000 crore of capital investment in the country over the next 5-7 years. The process is likely to contribute Rs 20,000 crore in revenues annually to state governments.
"Maamla to koyle ka hai, par heere ke sapne dekh ke chalna hai (the matter is of coal but the country has dreams of diamonds)," PM Modi said. Industries will now get new resources and new market for their businesses and investments, he said.
A self-reliant India means the country will reduce its dependence on imports, saving foreign currency worth crores of rupees, he said. "A self-reliant India means India doesn't have to import, developing its own resources," the Prime Minister said.
The government announced commercial mining last month to unlock the coal sector fully, with opportunities for investors related to mining, power and clean coal.
That was part of its Atmanirbhar Bharat monetary and fiscal measures worth Rs 21 lakh crore - equivalent to 10 per cent of GDP - to counter the damage caused by COVID-19 and the weeks-long lockdown. Many economists say that much of this has already been budgeted for by the government and very little includes new spending.