NEW DELHI: A Group of Ministers ( GoM) has cleared the formation of an independent coal regulatory authority to oversee the sector and insulate the government from widespread allegations of misconduct in the sector, top officials said.
Coal Minister Shriprakash Jaiswal told ET that the setting up of the regulator will prevent people from pointing fingers at his ministry, which has faced strong criticism for alleged malpractices in allocating coal blocks.
"We, at Ministry of Coal, wanted to introduce coal regulator in the sector to bring in transparency in production and quality. It will also be an authority to address the complaints of coal customers and producers. I am glad that we are reaching at a logical end despite skepticism in certain quarters," said Jaiswal.
The minister hopes to get the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in a month. Producers will continue to have the power to price the coal they sell, but the regulator will also have some role.
Jaiswal, Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia met Finance Minister P Chidambaram met on Wednesday to finalise the draft bill. The government had announced early 2010 that it would set up a regulator.
The ministers also discussed ways to help power producers to recover additional cost of expensive imported coal from distribution companies. Officials from of coal and power ministries will jointly suggest the framework for passing on fuel costs to customers.
The proposed authority will bring state-owned monopoly miner Coal India, which accounts for 81% of Indian cola production, in the regulatory framework.
For almost a year, Coal Ministry and UPA were under attack from the Opposition after the CAG accused government for adopting unfair norms in allocating coal blocks.