The coal ministry has convened a meeting this month to ascertain the fate of the coal blocks which have been auctioned to various private companies including Reliance Cement, Essar Power and Hindalco.
It has called for the meeting on November 26 to find out the status of 33 mines of which 16 have been bid out and the rest allotted to state power development corporations in February-March this year.
The fate of the mines belonging to the PSUs would also be assessed in the meet, a senior ministry official told The Indian Express. The ministry has asked representatives of the Schedule-II (ready-to-operate blocks) and top officials of the corporations to be present in the meeting.
The meet has been convened in the backdrop of concerns that coal could not be mined from some of the auctioned blocks owing to procedural delays triggering fear among the seven host states (where the mines are located) that if the bid and allocated mines do not become operational, they would lose out on the revenue. The coal ministry had said that these states would gain revenue of about Rs 3.35 lakh crore from the bids and allocations. While of the 31 blocks auctioned so far, only seven have reportedly commenced operations.
However, states like Chhattisgarh have amended rules to exempt companies that have won coal mines in the state from paying levies between 10 to15 per cent of the mine’s valuation for granting leases and allowed lower registration fee and stamp duty, according to the official. To pave the way for commencement of exploitation of coal from these mines, the coal ministry last month issued a directive to chief secretaries of seven states — Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand — ruling out any fresh valuation of the land containing the auctioned blocks. The directive came following apprehensions expressed by some states that for land transfer and mutation purposes, the coal blocks auctioned earlier this year may require fresh valuation. This move by the ministry would help in operationalising ten more blocks by March, the official said.
The blocks which would be examined to ascertain their operational readiness include, Talabira-1 mine of GMR Chhattisgarh Energy Limited in Odisha, Sial Ghoghri block of Reliance Cement Company in Madhya Pradesh, Gare Palma-IV/4 and IV/5 of Hindalco Industries in Chhattisgarh and Tokisud North block of Essar Power Madhya Pradesh Limited in Jharkhand. Others include Mandla North and Amelia North mines in Madhya Pradesh of Jaiprakash Associates and Jaiprakash Power Ventures as well as the Chotia mine of Bharat Aluminium in Chhattisgarh. Among the mines of the state firms to be assessed include the blocks allocated to power corporations of West Bengal, Punjab, Karnataka and Rajasthan.