Partha  Sarathi Bhattacharyya (Old King Coal)

Partha Sarathi Bhattacharyya (Old King Coal)

Chairman, Coal India Ltd (CIL)

Place of Birth: Mayurbhanj, Orissa

With its coal reserves due to last only another 40 to 45 years, India is taking steps to increase its coal imports to meet rising domestic consumption. Spearheading the move is Partha Bhattacharyya.

India relies on coal for over half of its power needs - and Bhattacharyya's CIL provides 85% of that coal. It is India's, and indeed the world's, largest coal producer.

Africa will be new territory for CIL, which is becoming a coal importer for the first time since its founding in 1975. A company it formed with four other state enterprises, Coal Ventures International (CVI), will carry out overseas acquisition.

An attempt to purchase a mine in Mozambique foundered earlier this year after a lengthy due diligence process. With India needing 15 million tonnes of coal by the end of this financial year ending March 2009, matters have taken on new urgency. CVI is giving mines in Mozambique another look, as well as assets in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Malawi.

Bhattacharyya studied physics at postgraduate level at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. He later studied at ICFAI University, a training centre for financial analysts. He joined CIL in 1977 as a management trainee, climbing the ladder to head the corporate treasury. He restructured CIL's capital and attracted loans from the World Bank and Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

In 2001, Bhattacharyya transferred to Western Coalfields, a CIL subsidiary, where he acted as Director of Finance. From 2004 to 2006, he was the Chairman of Bharat Coking Coal Ltd., a CIL subsidiary. Here he proved his mettle by shepherding the venture to its first profitable year since its inception in 1972. He returned to CIL as Chairman in 2006.