ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Steel Why Bokaro First

would be economical. In a world in which energy creation benefits vastly from. .technological orientation, India's coal " mining, which provides the country's major commercial fuel, continues to be primi-. tive and fragmented. ' Use of me- chanisation in mining, conveying, and loading for transport, requires far larger scales of operation than allowed by today's frag merited colliery ownership. In cooking coal this obstacle assumes serious proportions because mining losses and wastes are estimated at 70 per cent. These include, apart from the fines, a much larger proportion lost in the solid barriers between mines, in the supporting pillars which can be excavated only by incurring the exor- ftitant costs of stowing, and in the barriers round different manually- worked sections of a colliery. Amalgamation and mechanisation of these mines, which would maximise the efficient extraction of available reserves, have till now shown poor progress. Waking up, even though belatedly, to the need for larger mines, the Government had set up a Committee for Amalgamations in 1958. The Committee approved 54 amalgamations relating to 111 units (the coal industry has over 800), but out of these only 35 have been actually amalgamated. Nearly 10 years of sporadic effort and exhortation have indicated that the policy of voluntary amalgamation has signally failed. Three years ago, when C Subrama- niam was Minister for Steel, Mines and Metals, it seemed that powers might be assumed by the Union Government, as the Government in Britain did over three decades ago, to effect compulsory amalgamations. Yet that was not to be. And even if the States had not acted as restraining factors, it is not too certain that the public sector itself was equipped to assume the additional responsibility of re-orienting the amalgamated mines : the Coal Board has never had enough funds to fulfill its role of neutralising the rise in costs; the National Coal Development Corporation (NCDC) has yet to prove itself capable of creating the sound, 'well-knit organisation and smooth liaison with the Centre needed to give technical leadership to the other collieries; and the related Ministry at the Centre has itself been split and reunited twice "in these years which has prevented the emergence of the political perseverence and technical grasp required to make operational and public sense of the assumption of such statutory powers.

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