Energy division to convene inter-ministerial meeting on draft coal policy

Staff Correspondent, NewAge, October 5, 2008

The Energy Division will soon hold an inter-ministerial meeting on the draft coal policy to incorporate the observations of the council of advisers for placement of the policy draft before the council by early November, officials said.
   

‘We will hold the inter-ministerial meeting after the Eid holidays to incorporate observations of ministries such as
   the land and the environment in the draft coal policy,’ the energy secretary, Mohammad Mohsin, told New Age in the past week.
   

He said they would place the draft policy again before the council of advisers by early November.
   

The council of advisers, headed by the chief adviser, Fakhruddin Ahmed, at a meeting on August 13 in Chittagong sent back the draft policy for further scrutiny as a number of advisers differed on some provisions in the draft.
   

One of the advisers wanted a clear decision on royalty on coal extraction as the draft had a provision that a proposed coal sector development committee would set the royalty rate.
   

Setting the royalty rate has remained a contentious issue in the coal policy as the Energy Division dropped a set of guidelines included by the advisory committee of former BUET vice-chancellor Abdul Matin Patwari to set the royalty rate.
   

The adviser at the Chittagong meeting observed a minimum royalty rate should be there in the policy along with the guidelines on chanting the rate from time to time.
   

The council also observed there should be a more clear explanation on the steps that would be taken to rehabilitate the people affected by or coal mining and on the use of mined land.
   

They also wanted a clear analysis of environmental management, especially of the water table.
   

The council also asked the division to include more
   explanation on the licensing process of the coal mine and foreign investment in exploring and developing coal fields.
   

Energy officials said such issues would be discussed at the inter-ministerial meeting and relevant ministries would give their comments on each issue.
   

Many energy officials, however, are sceptical whether the interim government would make a decision on the sensitive coal policy only two months before the general elections.
   

When asked whether they were expecting a decision on the coal policy from this government, Mohsin said, ‘The Energy Division will complete its part. We will place the draft policy before the council. Definitely we are expecting a decision.’

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