NEW DELHI, Nov 20 (Reuters) - India will allow locally registered foreign firms to mine and sell coal when commercial mining is permitted as part of the opening up of the nationalised industry after four decades, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup told Reuters.
To end a chronic coal shortage that cripples power plants, the Narendra Modi government will also spend about $1 billion by 2019 to buy railway wagons and transport coal from remote mines, Swarup said in an interview on Thursday.
"Any company registered in India can bid (when a commercial coalfield auction takes place)," Swarup said. "So a foreign company registered in India can also bid, provided they fulfil other conditions."
Opening up the industry will increase private coal production to about 400 million tonnes by 2019 from less than 50 million tonnes last year, he said. (Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Douglas Busvine)