India should be able to end coal import by 2017, thereby saving precious foreign exchange, Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday.
"By 2017, India need not import coal, except for a few power plants on the coast where it is difficult to transport fuel," Goyal said at an energy conference organised here by international accounting firm KPMG.
"It will be the end of the era of shortages," he added.
Noting that India imported 215 million tonnes of coal last year, the minister said it was the "band-aid" kind of approach to energy problems in the past that led to this situation despite the country having the third largest coal reserves in the world.
Last week, Goyal said he visualised state miner Coal India's production doubling in the next five years.
"It (Coal India) will hopefully produce about 500 million tonnes this year. We'll do a billion tonnes in 2019," Goyal said.
On Monday, referring to Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan's remarks at KPMG's annual energy conclave here that agriculture in Odisha accounted for only two percent of electricity consumption in the state, Goyal said this was very poor compared to the national average of around 20-25 percent power use in agriculture.
"People of Odisha have been deprived of the fruits of coal in the state, as well as of development," Goyal said.
Later on Monday, addressing the CLSA India Forum in the national capital region, Goyal said that 250 million tonnes of coal washeries were in the pipeline.
Referring to the financial restructuring package for distressed state distribution companies - Uday - approved by the union cabinet earlier this month, the minister said it would be a game changer.
"Uday will also help the banking and manufacturing sectors by reducing NPAs (non performing assets) and lower power cost," he said.
"Uday will save $30 billion every year by 2018-19," he added.
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