Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cabinet sends back coal policy draft for scrutiny

NewAge, August 14, 2008

The council of advisers on Wednesday sent back the draft coal policy for further scrutiny of the issues related to royalty rate, mined land reclamation and environmental issues.

The council, headed by the chief adviser, Fakhruddin Ahmed, at a meeting at the Chittagong circuit house, discussed the policy draft and the changes the Energy Division made to the earlier draft of the advisory committee of former BUET vice-chancellor Abdul Matin Patwari.

Although a number of advisers questioned whether the interim government which has only five months in hand should adopt such a sensitive policy, the council unanimously felt that a coal policy was needed to immediately address the growing energy crisis, said sources present at the meeting.

The Energy Division prepared the eighth draft dropping two provisions recommended by the Patwari committee related to the return of the mined land to owners and some criteria on setting the royalty rate. It also withdrew the sections on environmental management during mining from the main text of the policy and included them in the policy appendix.

Some advisers observed the mined land should be returned to owners while others felt returning the land to the owners would be a complex and huge task.

The advisers also debated whether the criteria for setting the royalty should be included in the policy as many felt the proposed 28-member coal sector development committee was enough to set the criteria while others said a set of guidelines should be there in the policy for the committee.

The council in principle agreed that with the current reserve, coal should not be exported and the state-run companies or joint ventures, led by any state-run companies, would get the exploration and mining licences.

The advisers also debated whether the environmental issues should be included in the appendix or in the main text of the policy.

‘The Energy Division was asked to review all the matters and submit the draft again to the council,’ said a source present at the meeting.

Another source said that the division would get a clear picture of what the council’s decision was after getting the minutes of the meeting. ‘Advisers gave their opinions and after getting the minutes, the division will get the idea of what decisions it will need to make on the policy,’ he said.