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Coal Regulatory Bill cleared

EM News Bureau ,  Tuesday, June 04, 2013, 12:41 Hrs  [IST]

Coal-Bill_ElectricalMonitorThe group of ministers headed by Union finance minister P. Chidambaram has cleared the Coal Regulatory Bill that could lead to the formation of an independent authority to look into issues relating to quality, supply and prices of coal.

It is important to note that the proposed regulator will not have the power to set or control prices; the coal producer will decide on prices. The regulator will however have the powers to adjudicate on disputes relating to price, quality and supplies of coal. The new bill also calls for the formation of an appellate authority.

It may be mentioned that there exists and Office of the Coal Controller that has functions and powers that could overlap with those of the proposed coal regulator. It is not yet cleared if the Coal Controller will be dismantled.

Set up in 1916, essentially to regulate coal supplies during World War I, the Office of the Coal Controller (OCC) has several functions that include laying down of procedures and standards for coal sampling, inspection of collieries so as to ensure the correctness of the class, grade or size of coal, to act as the appellate authority in case of dispute between consumers and owner arising out of declaration of grade and size of coal, etc.

OCC till the mid-1990s had regulatory control over production, distribution and even pricing of coal. Distribution and pricing of coal was deregulated in 1996.
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