Coal India must add 22,000 jobs and acquire more land to help achieve the set output target of a billion tonnes of the solid fuel, government estimates showed.
The state-owned miner needs to acquire 37,272 hectares of land in the next four years, and the exercise may affect 42,537 families in about 300 villages. Another 45% of the land is under forests, requiring clearances that take a year. Only 2.2% of the land already belongs to the government.
Coal India provides jobs to one or two members of affected families. Often, people demand jobs for every family member, and at times refuse to part with land, lading to delays and cost overruns.
The centre has estimated the number of jobs demanded in lieu of land to be in excess of 85,000. If offered, it would raise manpower costs and hurt productivity. In recent years, Coal India’s recruitment has trailed retirement levels, with headcount falling from 4 lakh in 2010 to 2.7 lakh now. It hires 5,000 people a year while three times as many retire annually.
“Land acquisition efforts by Coal India subsidiaries often lead to agitation and work disruption. Actual jobs offered in many cases far exceed sustainable ratio while age of job seekers vary greatly in every case necessitating the company to spend heavily on training and capacity building,” a senior government official said.
Until now, Coal India has acquired 2.71 lakh hectares of land; however, it failed to possess almost 38% of it and had to offer employment to 75,000. This translates into one job in lieu of 2.21 hectares of land.
Land acquired by Coal India technically belongs to the miner but in many cases, they are unable to start project work as villagers refuse to vacate, often leading to law and order issues in certain states.