Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi on Tuesday made an appeal to CIL trade unions not to go on strike and said there were no plans to either divest the PSU or hive off CMPDIL, Coal India arm, from the maharatna firm.
The trade unions have given a call for a three-day nationwide strike from Thursday against the government's move to open the coal sector to private players and separate the state-run firm's exploration, planning and design arm CMPDIL from the company, among others.
"I appeal to the coal workers not to go on strike. This is not needed. We are already working (on a solution)," Joshi said, in a telephonic interview to PTI, when asked about the strike call given by unions.
One being asked about plans with regard to separating CMPDIL from CIL, the minister said, "Factually it is not correct and we are supporting CMPDIL. I want to make it clear that there is no move to either divest Coal India or withdraw CMPDIL from Coal India."
The government, he said, wants to assure all the coal unions that there is no need to worry and the Centre is fully with CIL and coal workers.
The coal ministry is in constant dialogue with the trade unions, Joshi emphasised and expressed confidence that the government would be able to convince them to withdraw the proposed strike.
"Yes yes. Even today our secretary (coal) had a detailed discussions with them. There apprehension is not correct... We are trying to strenthgen (Coal India), we are providing so much to them. Why should there be apprehensions," the minister asked.
CIL is the PSU looking after the chunk of the coal requirement of the country, so it will be strengthened and promoted, he said.
"Coal India is our strategic company. Power sector is the strategic sector and to supply adequate power to the country Coal India is strategic again," he explained.
"In 2023-24 we want it (Coal India) be made one billion tonnes..., so Coal India is going to continue as dominant player," Joshi stressed.
Coal India, he said, produces a little over 600 million tonnes (MT) while the country's requirement is around 900 MT, resulting in a shortage of around 300 MT.
"Whether we should produce our own coal, being the fifth or fourth largest reserves (of coal), or we should import from countries like China, Australia, Indonesia and burn it here. Burning of coal will be for next 30 years but whether we should burn our coal or we should burn the imported coal, this is decision we have to take at this point of time," he explained.
Coal India accounts for over 80 per cent of domestic coal output.