Kolkata, Jan 14 (PTI) Coal India Ltd, which is struggling to meet coal production targets, foresees significant competition coming in from the private sector in the future, a top official of the company has said.

“More challenging times are ahead. Soon, mines for commercial exploitation will be offered to the private sector and in the not-too-distant future, private sector production may turn out to be significant,” Coal India chairman Gopal Singh said in a closed door video address to employees of all subsidiaries while congratulating them on their promotions.

The company has set a 600 million tonne coal production target for 2017-18.

Coal India officers said it was for the first time that any chairman personally interacted with staff to congratulate them on their promotion and listened to problems faced by them first hand.

In his address, Singh highlighted the need to gear up and meet the challenges ahead, sources told PTI.

Singh expressed concern over the rising cost of production for the miner and told his colleagues that in the future, when private players become active in commercial mining, the cost of production will become crucial for business.

He asked the officers to give villagers their due in the mining areas and listen to their concerns.

“The land belongs to the villagers. You must respect them and be polite and attempt to resolve their issues,” he said.

At a time when land acquisition is becoming increasingly difficult, such comments may make some difference, a Coal India officer said.

Singh also said that he was confident that Coal India’s employees will meet the challenges facing them.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.