Piyush Goyal, who got the charge of the mines ministry on Tuesday to go with his older portfolios of power, coal and renewable energy, has decided to bring to mining the same transparency he gave to coal.
A senior official said the minister issued a directive on Wednesday, soon after taking charge at the mines ministry, that everything about its working must be placed on its website, including everything about leasing of mines, all queries, and right to information (RTI) applications. The ministry’s responses to RTI queries must also be placed on the site.
“This has to be done by month end and will ensure absolute transparency,” the official said.
Goyal, soon after he took charge of coal, brought in auctions to ensure fairness and quell the many controversies. Auctions played a big role in cleaning up the sector, which was reeling under the Supreme Court’s cancellations of several coal blocks allotted to private sector companies.
With time, Goyal succeeded in boosting the country’s coal production, which provided a breather to power companies since India produces 60% of its electricity from coal. According to industry chamber FICCI, India was in those days losing 0.4% of its GDP due to power shortages.
Soon, the coal availability at power plants increased from a low of two days’ stock in 2014 to a healthy 20 to 45 days’. Prime Minister Narendra-Modi, as part of his successful election campaign in 2014, had promised 24x7 electricity for all.
Mines is equally important to the country. However, the value of mineral output in the country declined by 11% in 2015-16 in spite of a 9% rise in volume. As Goyal said after taking charge: “Today it is clear that mining sector will grow fast. We will make sure that its share in GDP grows at least by one percentage point in next two to three years. We will analyse the mineral reserves and market conditions and decide which low hanging fruit to go for first.”
The ministry has already lined up 50 atomic mineral blocks and 100 others for auctions.