Monday, July 14, 2008

Draft coal policy to be placed in cabinet soon

The Daily Star, July 14, 2008

The draft coal policy with options for open pit and underground mining is being sent this week to the cabinet division for the government approval.

“We've completed all necessary procedures. Now the draft will be sent to the cabinet division anytime this week for approval, Chief Adviser's Special Assistant for Power and Energy Ministry M Tamim told the news agency yesterday.

The inter-ministerial meeting discussing the draft policy had given the green signal to go ahead, he added.

The Buet professor-turn-caretaker government functionary said options for both open pit and underground mining methods were kept in the draft policy.

“Development method of any coal field will be determined on the basis of the coal conditions,” he said, adding that there is no provision for any pilot- or experiment-based project of open pit mining.

Full compensation, including rehabilitation of those affected by the mining, was provided in the draft policy. But they would not get the land back on completion of the mining as was proposed in the earlier draft policy.

“Land ministry has suggested that this is not a pragmatic provision as land returning process to the original owner may create a lot of complications after a long time of acquisition,” Dr Tamim added.

A high-level technical expert committee drafted the coal policy and placed it to the energy division in January this year.

Energy division reviewed the policy and took suggestions and opinions of other ministries concerned before finalising the draft.

In the absence of coal policy, the energy ministry's move for developing the country's coal fields remained stalled.

So far, six coal fields with a total reserves of 2.55 billion tonnes have been identified, mostly in the northern region.

Of those, Phulbari Coal Mine project, for which a UK-based company Asia Energy conducted a feasibility study and submitted an open pit mining development project remained staled for the government's approval.

Similarly, Tata Group of India also showed its interest and placed a proposal for development of Barapukuria Coal Mine project through open pit method. But the government is taking a decision for the policy.