Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the coronavirus outbreak has taught India how to be self-reliant. Addressing the public at the inauguration of the auction process of coal blocks for commercial mining, Modi said the country is about to take a “big step” in meeting its energy demands and boosting economic development.

The government will auction 41 coal mines to boost private sector investments in coal, as part of the the Centre’s Rs 20 lakh crore special economic package to help the country recuperate from the economic fallout of the coronavirus. The process is open for domestic as well as global firms under the 100% foreign direct investment route.

“The country has taken made the big decision of opening up the coal and mining sector to competition, capital, participation and technology,” Modi said at the launch via video call. “This auction process for commercial coal mines is a win-win situation for all.”

Modi said the Centre has set a target to gasify around 100 million tonnes of coal by the year 2030. “I’ve been told that four projects have been identified for this and about Rs 20,000 crore will be invested in them,” he added. “It’s a matter of coal but we have a dream to achieve diamond through the [auction] process.”

The auction of the coal mines is taking place at a time when business activity in India is normalising rapidly, Modi said. “Consumption and demand is rapidly approaching the pre-Covid level,” he added. “In such a situation, there cannot be a better time for this new beginning.”

Self-reliance cannot be attained without a strong mining and mineral sector because they are important pillars of the country’s economy, Modi said. “After these reforms, now coal production, the entire coal sector will also be self-sufficient in a way,” he added.

With the launch of commercial mining, the coal ministry said India has unlocked the coal sector fully with opportunities for investors related to mining, power and clean coal sectors.

A two-stage electronic auction process is being adopted for allocation of the coal mines. The rollout of is expected to boost private sector participation which will in turn lead to higher production, enhance competition and generate employment, according to the government.