The coal ministry has asked companies owning 40 functional and 6 soon-to-be-operational captive coal blocks to furnish detailed information on the mines along with the status of their end-use projects by Wednesday.
The information provided by the 37 companies holding the 46 blocks would be appended to the affidavit and furnished before the Supreme Court for its ongoing hearings on the alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks since 1993. The companies include Hindalco Industries for Talabira-1 block, Jindal Steel and Power for Gare Palma IV/2 and 3 in Chhattisgarh, Steel Authority of India Limited for Tasra mine in Jharkhand and Damodar Valley Corporation’s Barjora North block in West Bengal.
Separately, the coal ministry has also asked holders of six blocks including GVK Power and state-run NTPC to furnish the timeline by which their mines would become operational. These six mines are Tokisud North, Khagra Joydev, Sial Ghoghri, Mandla North, Bicharpur and Pakri Barwadih.
In a letter, the coal ministry has asked the firms to be transparent and objective while furnishing information regarding the blocks. “It may be noted that the information supplied will form part of the affidavit to be filed by the government before the Supreme Court and therefore furnishing any misleading or false information may invite penal action as per law,” it said and asked them to “positively” provide the required matter by Wednesday.
The details sought by the ministry includes, date of allotment of mines, date of grant of mining lease, coal production in the last fiscal, coal production since commencement of mining, details of linked end use plant and investment in the coal block as well as the plant.
On Monday, the government told the apex court that it stands by the August 25 judgement and wants re-allocation of all the 218 blocks, but said “will be happy if we save some 40 of them which are functional or operational and ready for end use plants.”
The apex court had on August 25 declared all coal block allocations from 1993 onwards to be illegal. Of the 218 coal blocks with reserves of about 50 billion tonnes that have been allocated to public and private companies under the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973, 25 had been de-allocated before 2006. Out of cancelled coal blocks, two mines were re-allocated to eligible firms subsequently.
The net allocated blocks are 195 with reserves of about 44.23 billion tonnes, of which 81 are with power sector, 40 given for commercial mining, 63 for iron and steel, six for cement and five to other sectors.
An inter-ministerial group constituted by the government in 2012 had de-allocated over 50 mines taking the total of cancelled mines to 80.