While state-run Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) returned the Sitanala and Parbatpur coal blocks to the coal ministry in March, the latter has not allotted alternative coal blocks to the company so far.
Moreover, the coal ministry has not returned the payments made by the company, such as bank guarantees. In response to specific queries mailed by The Indian Express, SAIL stated on September 28 that “the amount has not yet been returned” to the company. Moreover, the company also confirmed to the newspaper that alternative coal blocks – in lieu of Parbatpur and Sitanala coal block – have not been allotted to the company as yet.
Both the coal blocks are situated in Jharkhand district. As the coal bed methane area was overlapping with the petroleum mining area, the coal mining lease area of these two blocks were reduced. Therefore, the coal mining projects related to these blocks became unviable. The SAIL board, on March 1, 2018, approved the proposal to return these two coal blocks to the coal ministry because of this unviability.