Coal blocks allotted to big firms may be scrapped,JSPL,Tata Power at risk

Coal ministry is preparing to cancel the allotment of some mega blocks.

Written by Priyadarshi Siddhanta | New Delhi | Published:October 18, 2013 1:41 am

Within days of the CBI naming Aditya Birla Group chief Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary PC Parakh in its 14th FIR in the blocks allocation case,the coal ministry is preparing to cancel the allotment of some mega blocks including those of Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL),Tata Power Ltd,NTPC and Steel Authority of India Ltd.

The inter-ministerial group (IMG) looking into the case has shortlisted 30 blocks. The group is set to meet next week. Show cause notices have already been served a month ago to the allottees of each block pointing to the defaults in meeting milestones.

The ministry will take stock of the replies made by the companies. Sources in the ministry said that most of the replies are not adequate.

The blocks include,JSPL’s Amarkonda Murgadangal in Jharkhand,Utkal 1B and Ramchandi Promotional block in Orissa.

The investigating agency has,so far,filed 14 FIRs and two preliminary enquires in connection with the alleged irregularities and criminal conspiracy in allocation of these coal blocks between 2006-09.

Other big firms which may face cancellation of allotments are Tata Steel and Adhunik Thermal Energy’s Ganeshpur block in Jharkhand and Tata Power’s Mandakini A block in Orissa. The block was jointly allotted to Tata Steel,Jindal Photo and Monnet Ispat & Energy. GVK Power’s Tokisud North mine in Jharkhand is also under the IMG’s scanner.

Among public sector firms,NTPC’s Pakri Barwadih,Kerandari,Chatti Bariatu and Chatti Bariatu South blocks and SAIL’s Sitanala mine in Jharkhand would be subjected to scrutiny too.

Another state-run power producer Damodar Valley Corporation may lose Khagra Joydev block in West Bengal and Saharpur Jamarpani mine in Jharkhand. Sesa-Sterlite group company Balco may lose Durgapur-Taraimar block in Chhattisgarh.

Even the country’s biggest iron ore producer NMDC may lose its Shahpur West Block in Madhya Pradesh.

Since 1993,the government had allotted 218 coal blocks to various public and private sector companies of which allotments of 47 blocks have been cancelled so far. Pressure from the Supreme Court-monitored CBI investigation has made the ministry move fast.

The IMG has met 28 times so far. Interestingly,the panel is proceeding against the allottees at a time when the CBI has registered FIRs against some of the companies.

With lower coal share,Orissa plan shelved: NLC

New Delhi: Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) claims it has shelved a 2,000 MW project in Orissa as it got a lower supply of committed coal from the Talabira II block. This is the block where the public sector firm had to bring down its equity to 15 per cent to accommodate Hindalco’s demand for coal.

The NLC website shows the three-way joint venture was named MNH Sakthi Limited,and it was set up “as per the direction of ministry of coal” to develop and mine Talabira II and III coal blocks in Orissa and share the production in the same ratio.

NLC chairman B Surender Mohan told The Indian Express that the company had asked for a 30 per cent stake in the joint venture to help it mine about 6 MT of coal. But with Hindalco being offered a 15 per cent stake,NLC’s coal share came down to 3 MT.

“I understand that the Screening Committee had recommended the project in favour of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd and NLC. Hindalco’s inclusion made us re-think about our Orissa plant. We have stopped pursuing it,” he said.

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