The Centre on Tuesday opened up the coal mining sector for private firms, ending state-run Coal India’s monopoly, PTI reported. Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said the move would increase efficiency in the sector by moving it from an era of monopoly to competition.

“It will increase competitiveness and allow the best possible technology into the sector,” the minister said announcing the decision taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. “The higher investment will create direct and indirect employment in coal-bearing areas, especially in the mining sector and will have an impact on economic development.”

He claimed that the move to allow commercial mining was “the most ambitious coal sector reform” since its nationalisation in 1973. Coal mines will now be sold in an e-auction to private domestic and global miners.

Goyal said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved the methodology for auction of coal mines and blocks under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

Goyal also said that there would be no price restriction on coal, Business Standard reported. He said that private players would work towards reducing the prices in a competitive market. The minister also said the move would help Coal India improve its efficiency due to competition.

“The quality of coal will improve and imports will come down,” he added. “We want to make India self-sufficient in coal. The move aims to improve ease of doing business in India”.