NEW DELHI: In a move aimed at increasing investment and creating jobs in the coal sector, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a policy to monetise land parcels acquired under the Coal Bearing Areas (CBA) Act, which are mined out or are practically unsuitable for coal mining. Such land units will now be used for development of infrastructure relating to coal and energy.
The CBA Act provides for acquisition of coal-bearing lands and their vesting in government companies, free from any encumbrance.
The new policy provides for utilisation of idle land owned by state-owned coal firms such as Coal India and its subsidiaries.
The policy allows only leasing of the land for specified purposes. Coal firms can deploy private capital in joint projects for coal and energy-related infrastructure development activities.
The lands can be used to set up coal washeries, conveyor systems, coal handling plants, railway sidings, thermal and renewable power projects etc. The lands can also be used for rehabilitation and resettlement of project affected families, compensatory afforestation, and coal gasification.
Idle lands are prone to encroachment and entail avoidable expenditure on security and maintenance.
The government hopes establishing infrastructure, without transferring ownership from state-owned companies, will help generate direct and indirect employment.
Unlocking non-minable land will also help Coal India reduce its cost of operations as it will be able to set up coal-related infrastructure and solar plants on its own land in partnership with the private sector, a government release said.
The new policy will also make coal gasification projects viable as coal needs not be transported to distant places, it added.
Investment in backward areas, local industry push
The policy is expected to unlock land infrastructure development that would encourage investment in backward areas.
It would also prevent fresh acquisition of land and related displacement and promote local industries