Advancing its decision to open up the coal sector for commercial mining, the Indian Government will allot 16 blocks to State Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) for development, production and sale of coal.

India’s Coal Ministry says that of the 16 blocks earmarked for PSU’s five mines are in Madhya Pradesh, three in Telangana, two blocks each in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, and one each in Odisha and West Bengal.

It said that eight of the blocks had been identified for the host states with the remainder for other than host state.

For the first time in more than 40 years, the government, through the central PSU Coal India, is throwing open the coal sector for commercial mining. The decision is in line with the government’s target of doubling coal production to 1.5 billion tonnes by 2020.

It has fixed a target of 1 billion tonnes of production for Coal India by 2020. Coal India accounts for more than 80% of the domestic production and has a target to produce 550 million tonnes of coal this financial year.

The Cabinet earlier gave its approval for allotting coal mines to central and state PSUs for sale of coal, especially to medium, small and cottage industries, under the provisions of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.

In January, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup had said that the coal ministry was working towards creating a platform for commercial mining.

The blocks that have been earmarked for allocation to PSUs include Shankarpur Bhatgaon II Extn and Madanpur South in Chhattisgarh; Patal East and Mednirai in Jharkhand; Dahegaon/Makard Hokra-IV and Kosar Dongergaon in Maharashtra; and Baitarni West in Odisha.

Penagaddppa, Anesttipali and Punkula-Chilka in Telangana, Gourangdih ABC in West Bengal, Sahapur East and Sahapur West, Suliyari, Dongri Tal-II and Marki Barka mines in Madhya Pradesh are the other mines.