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9.2.11

The coal and environment ministers on Tuesday made a breakthrough on issues that are delaying projects to ramp up output, even as state-run Coal India warned of price pressure this fiscal owing to production shortfall.

"Both the ministries would come out with decisions that would be in the interest of the country, its industrialization and augment its power generation capacity," coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said after an hour-long meeting with environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

The two will meet again on February 10. Sources said the issue of "go" and "no-go" did not figure during their meeting. "The meeting focused on varied issues affecting coal projects. The next meeting will examine cases individually to resolve issues," one government official said.

The coal ministry recently argued before the Cabinet that green issues were affecting coal production. Besides Coal India, several power, steel and other projects have been delayed by green hurdles. The RBI too has said the environment ministry's activism has led to a fall in FDI flow.

"We could not take up new mining in nine coal-mining areas due to restrictions laid down by MoEF (environment ministry). Owing to this, we will fall short in our production targets," CIL chairman Partha S Bhattacharjee said.

"We are pressing the government for a hike in coal price within the fiscal, let's see." "We keep coal price in control by increasing production but now this control is no more. So, do not complain if there is 'high' increase in price," Bhattacharjee said. According to coal ministry's estimates, the widening demand-supply gap of the fuel is likely to touch 142 million tonnes next fiscal from the projected 84 million tonnes in the present fiscal.

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