New Delhi [India]: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday (April 13) approved the policy for the use of land acquired under the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition & Development) Act, 1957 [CBA Act].
The Cabinet said that it was done to facilitate the utilisation of lands that are mined out or are practically unsuitable for coal mining and for increasing investment and job creation in the coal sector. The policy provides for utilisation of such land for the purpose of development and setting up of infrastructure relating to coal and energy, it added.
The CBA Act provides for the acquisition of coal-bearing lands and their vesting in a government company, free from any encumbrance. The approved policy provides a clear policy framework for utilising these types of lands acquired under the CBA Act – lands no longer suitable or economically viable for coal mining activities or lands from which coal has been mined out / de-coaled such land has been reclaimed.
The Cabinet said that the government coal companies, such as Coal India Ltd (CIL) and its subsidiaries, shall remain owners of these lands acquired under the CBA Act, and the policy allows only leasing of the land for the specified purposes given in the policy. Government coal companies can deploy private capital in joint projects for coal and energy-related infrastructure development activities.
The Government company which owns the land would lease such land for a specific period given under the policy, and the entities for leasing shall be selected through a transparent, fair and competitive bid process and mechanism in order to achieve optimal value. The lands will be considered for activities including setting up coal washeries, setting up conveyor systems, establishing Coal Handling Plants, constructing railway sidings, rehabilitation and resettlement of project affected families due to acquisition of land under the CBA Act or other land acquisition law, to set up thermal and renewable power projects, to set up or provide for coal development-related infrastructure including compensatory afforestation, to provide Right of Way, coal gasification and coal to chemical plants and to set up or provide for energy-related infrastructure.
The lands which are mined out or are practically unsuitable for coal mining are prone to unauthorised encroachment and entail avoidable expenditure on security and maintenance. Under the approved policy, the establishment of various coal and energy-related infrastructure, without transfer of ownership from Government companies, would lead to the generation of a large number of direct and indirect employment.
This unlocking of non-minable land for other purposes will also help CIL in reducing its cost of operations as it will be able to set up coal-related infrastructure and other projects such as solar plants on its own land by adopting different business models in partnership with the private sector. It will make coal gasification projects viable as coal need not be transported to distant places.
The proposal to utilise the land for rehabilitation purposes would ensure proper utilisation of land and would eliminate wastage of all-important land resources, avoid acquisition of a fresh chunk of land for rehabilitation of Project Affected Families, eliminate loading of an additional financial burden on the projects and increase profit. It will also address the demand of the displaced families as they always prefer to stay as close as possible to their original residential places. It will help in obtaining local support for coal projects and also provide land to the State Government for afforestation in lieu of forest land diverted to coal mining.
The Policy will help in realising the goal of Atmanirbhar Bharat by encouraging domestic manufacturing, reducing import dependence, job creation, etc. The policy will unlock land for various coal and energy infrastructure development activities that would encourage investment in backward areas of the country. The utilisation of already acquired land would also prevent the fresh acquisition of land and related displacement and would promote local manufacturing and industries. (ANI)