In view of rising production of the dry fuel, India plans to completely stop thermal coal imports in 2-3 years that would result in annual savings of Rs 40,000 crore, Union Minister Piyush Goyal today said.

Coking coal, however, would need to be imported, the Coal and Power Minister said at the maiden Maritime India Summit here, adding that his Ministry was ready to tie up with Indian shipping companies for this purpose.

Record coal production by the world’s largest coal miner CIL, helped India reduce its import bill of the dry fuel by more than Rs 28,000 crore in the last fiscal.

“This is the time for Indians to buy ships, to invest in infrastructure. This is the time for Indian shipping companies to own ships. I am happy to do long term contracts with Indian shipping companies to transport our coal. Why don’t we have a long-term contract,” he said.Goyal also proposed setting up a small private equity fund that would be handled by an international fund investor expert.

Goyal said the Petroleum Ministry, along with players like GAIL and Petronet should collaborate with the Power Ministry for entering into long term contracts to ensure supply of gas to nearly 24,000 MW projects.

Currently we have 24,000 MW of gas-based projects and we have a stock that will be sufficient till March 2017. But after that I am looking at around 70-80 mmscfd of gas for Indian power plants alone.

Goyal said his ministry is working towards achieving 20,000 MW of solar capacity target by 2017, nearly 5 years ahead of the timeline set by the previous government.

He also said that India currently has one lakh seafarers and this can be take up to 10 lakh. There is a huge scope in maritime engineering and we need to encourage it. At international level there is a huge scope for seafarers. In India we have one lakh seafarers and we can easily take it to 10 lakh,” Goyal said.