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Friday, March 5, 2010

Coal imports to rise 21% in 2010-11

India's coal imports are expected to rise 21 percent in the coming fiscal year beginning April and the government may allow joint ventures with foreign partners to bid for coal blocks to raise output, the coal minister said on Friday.

Coal contributes more than half of India's annual energy consumption, but local output lags booming demand in the energy-hungry country.

"This year we have increased our production by about 8 percent, but energy requirement has increased by 15 percent," Sriprakash Jaiswal told Reuters in an interview.

"The reason is that our country's growth is rising so fast. Industrialisation is so fast, people want power."

Factory output in India, Asia's third-largest economy, grew nearly 17 percent in December from a year earlier, the fastest pace on record, signalling a strong economic recovery.

Jaiswal said India's coal production in 2010/11 is likely to reach 571.87 million tonnes from an estimated 533 million tonnes in the current fiscal year that ends on March 31.

"If we start the bidding process, the private players who will come in, could raise production," he said.

Jaiswal said imports in 2010/11 is seen at 84.44 million tonnes from 70 million tonnes in the current fiscal year.

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