Monday, February 24, 2014

Ministerial panel recommends 26 coal blocks for deallocation

The coal ministry had last month served a fresh notice to allottees of 61 blocks that had not yet been developed

New Delhi: The inter ministerial panel looking into the status of development of captive coal blocks to private power and steel companies has recommended that 26 more such blocks be taken back.

A person in direct knowledge of the matter said this after the second day of the panel’s latest round of meetings. The panel reviewed 61 blocks on Friday and Saturday.

This person who did not want to be identified, however, did not specify which blocks were recommended for deallocation or which companies they had been allotted to.

The coal ministry had last month served a fresh notice to allottees of 61 blocks that had not yet been developed. The companies had been asked to revert by the first week of February.
These coal blocks were among those that were allocated between 1993 and 2010, and are being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as part of a Supreme Court-monitored probe.

CBI started probing allocations of coal mines after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, the government auditor, published a report in 2012 estimating a notional loss of Rs.1.86 trillion to the exchequer because of a flawed allocation process.
These 61 blocks were the ones in which either the first stage of environment clearances had not been obtained or which had not been explored or had only been partially explored at the time of allocation.

As per procedure, the panel’s recommendations are sent to the coal minister, who has to sign off on them before they take effect. The minister is, however, not bound by the recommendations.
In its 17 January notice, the coal ministry had said that such blocks would be taken back. The notice said that in case a block holder fails to furnish information by these dates, the ministry would take “appropriate decision based on the available information and material on record”.

Prominent allottees whose blocks were under review included Tata Steel Ltd, Tata Sponge Iron Ltd, Tata Power Co. Ltd, Jayaswal Neco Ltd, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Reliance Energy Ltd, Ultratech Ltd, Rungta Mines Ltd, Essar Power Ltd, Hindustan Zinc Ltd, Hindalco Industries Ltd, DB Power Ltd, Adani Power Ltd, Arcelor Mittal Ltd, GVK Power (Govindwal Sahib) Ltd, Bhushan Power & Steel Ltd, Monnet Ispat & Energy, Sterlite Energy Ltd, GMR Energy Ltd, Usha Martin Ltd, JSW Steel Ltd, Jaiprakash Associates Ltd, ACC Cement Ltd, Uttam Galva Steels Ltd, Adhunik Corp. Ltd and SKS Ispat and Power Ltd.
Aman Malik
First Published: Sat, Feb 08 2014. 05 23 PM IST

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