IMG review of coal blocks concludes, report soon

Panel reviews progress of blocks allocated to pvt firms

The Inter-Ministerial Group on coal block allocation is likely to submit its report to the Coal Ministry on Monday as its three-day review of 29 private sector allottees, including Jindal Steel and Power and others in which relatives of politicians held positions, have concluded.

“All the coal blocks on agenda for three days (September 6-8) have been reviewed,” Zohra Chatterji, Additional Secretary in the Coal Ministry who headed the IMG, said on Saturday.

The group is likely to submit the report to the Coal Ministry on Monday and may forward it to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The panel is reviewing the progress of coal blocks allocated to private firms without auction. The IMG meeting took place in the backdrop of the CAG estimating undue advantage to private companies to the extent of Rs 1.86 lakh crore in the absence of auction.

Most of the monsoon session of Parliament was washed out with the Opposition, mainly the BJP, demanding resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He had held the coal portfolio during the UPA-I government, when most of these blocks were allocated.
During the three-day IMG meeting, all the 29 allottees gave progress reports of their blocks and several of them said delays in starting the production resulted due to lack of various clearances from different state governments.

Coal block allottees, including Tata Steel, Reliance Power, JSW, Grasim Industries, Kesoram Industries, IST Steel & Power, SKS Ispat and Power, Bihar Sponge Iron, appeared before the panel during IMG’s three-day review exercise.

Before the start of the review exercise, the Coal Ministry had said on September 3 that the latest progress as reported by the Coal Controller will also be taken into account by the IMG “before recommending on the action against the coal block allottees.”
The IMG has also firmed up the guidelines for proportionate deduction of bank guarantees for failure to achieve milestones for development of the block, it said.  After its presentation today, IST Steel & Power, in which former Corporate Affairs Minister Prem Chand Gupta's son Gaurav Gupta is a Director, said it did not know why a show- cause notice was sent to it as its coal block in Chhattisgarh is progressing on schedule.
SKS Ispat and Power, in which Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai's brother held the position of "honorary director", also presented its case before the IMG.

Bhushan Steel & Power, which had been allotted Bijahan coal mine in Odisha, said it has already conveyed to the Ministry that the end-use plant for which it was alloted mine in 2006 is already under operation.

"The end use plant is already is completed and we have invested Rs 22,000 crore in the integrated steel and power plant and we have covered all the major milestone like land acquisition, mining plan approved," an official of Bhushan Steel & Power said.

Another official with Himachal Emta Power Ltd which was alloted Gourangdih ABC coal block along with JSW Steel said due to some technical problem in the block, the company had to revise the mining plan of the block.

An official of the Mukund Steel which was alloted Rajhara North (Central & Eastern) block said there was no delay from the company's side.

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