Structuring a post-Covid-19 world needs grit, perseverance and a vision—precisely everything that makes up Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The world was taken aback with the pandemic and was struggling to cope up with it when our PM declared the grand vision of a self-reliant India, the AatmaNirbhar Bharat. As the Union Minister of Mines and Coal, Pralhad Joshi often revealed ahead his ministry’s contribution to this grand initiative. They were collecting daily reports down to each district and having detailed deliberations with none other than the Prime Minister himself.
Consequently, when during the launch of auction for commercial mining of coal, on June 18, 2020, PM Modi discussed about ending decades of lockdown in coal, the segment was only too ready to don the novel avatar. In the following months, the government galvanised its machinery to remodel the mineral mining sector.
The mining sector is next only to agriculture in terms of creating employment. The sector directly and indirectly employs about 1.1 crore people and sustains the livelihood of about 5.5 crore people in the country. One direct job in the sector generates 10 indirect jobs. Likewise, 1% growth in mining results in a 1.5% growth in industrial production. Its importance grows manifold when we consider other allied sectors that depend on it for their survival and existence. Sectors such as steel, aluminium, commercial vehicles, rail transportation, ports, shipping, power generation, etc, are closely linked to the mining sector. Therefore, an enhancement to the mining sector will boost these sectors as well, which, together, will brighten the economic horizon of the nation.
With a sector having such far-reaching significance in generation of employment opportunities, the Modi government visions increasing its contribution from 1.75% of GDP lately to 2.5% of GDP, with a target to increase the mineral production output by 200% in the next seven years.
The country’s mineral mining sector has remained choked for various decades under previous regimes. Despite huge mineral potential, India had so far been underexplored with mining being carried out only on 0.25% of the land, whereas over 17% of the national land has mineral reserves. The segment had also underperformed in attracting investments.