Govt re-examining bids for nine auctioned coal blocks

Govt re-examining bids for nine auctioned coal blocks

Govt re-examining bids for nine auctioned coal blocks

 The government is re-examining the bids for nine recently auctioned coal blocks, including those where Jindal Steel & Power and Balco emerged top bidders, amid speculation of cartelisation during the bidding process.

Expecting the details would emerge in "a couple of days" on what actually transpired during the bidding process for these mines, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup insisted that the government wasn't looking at cartelisation aspect at the moment.

There have been reports that some bidders could have indulged in cartelisation to keep the prices low for the concerned mines.

"In the schedule II, we were looking at four mines and in schedule III we are looking at five mines...Prima facie we found that it requires a re-examination, so it has been re-examined that is about all," Swarup told news channel CNBC TV18.

He, however, reiterated that the government was only re-examining and not reviewing, "because there was no decision taken. Review happens when you take a decision".

The bids of four coal blocks of the schedule II mines (ready to produce) which are being re-examined are Gare Palma IV 2, Gare Palma IV 3, Gare Palma IV-1 and Marki Mangli III.

Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL) was the successful bidder for Gare Palma IV 2 and Gare Palma IV 3 mines, while Balco successfully bid Gare Palma IV/1 mine and BS Ispat bagged Marki Mangli III mine.

The coal blocks which do not figure in the list of successful bidders of schedule III mines are Brinda and Sasai mine (one bid was invited for both the mines), Meral mine, Dumri mine, Tara mine and Mandla South mine.

Asked why re-examination was required, he said: "On the face of it, we felt that the bids that were offered were not at the same levels as similar blocks in the same group. However, that was not a decision per se. That was first impression and that needed to be examined and that is why it has been examined."

On whether the government has noticed any evidence of cartelisation, Swarup said: "As I said, this is a process underway. I would not like to comment on what is going on the file. A decision will be taken in couple of days and you will get to know what has happened."
While insisting that the government "has not looked at any such thing as cartelisation or anything of such sort", he said: "I have used the word 'outliers'. There is a pattern and if somebody falls outside that pattern that needs a examination.

"Whether it is a cartelisation or not it not something which I can say as of now. We are certainly not examining these aspects. We are examining if there is an outlier the reason for it and then we will take a call."

So far, a total of 33 coal blocks have been auctioned in two tranches. While in the first lot 19 coal mines were auctioned, in the second lot 14 coal blocks went under the hammer.

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