Bids for 9 coal mines being re-examined; decision by weekend

Bids for 9 coal mines being re-examined; decision by weekend

 The government is re-examining the bids for nine coal blocks, including those where Jindal Steel and Balco emerged the top bidders, and a final decision on their fate would be taken by this weekend -- amid speculation of cartelisation during their bidding process.

The options that could be explored for these mines, after 're-examination' of the bids, would include a fresh auction for those mines, allotting them to the state or giving those blocks to state-run Coal India, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said.

"By this week-end there would be a decision on the nine coal blocks which are being re-examined by the government," Swarup told PTI.

Asked if there is a possibility that government can go for re-auctioning of these blocks, Swarup said: "Anything can happen."

There are variety of options which the government is exploring. "The government can re auction the mines, it can allot the mines to the state and it can give the blocks to Coal India," he said.Allotment of the 43 coal blocks to government companies would also be done by the end of this week, he added.

Expecting the details would emerge in "a couple of days" on what actually transpired during the bidding process for the 9 mines, 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.

According to a JSPL spokesperson, "The company has not received any communication from the government with regard to the re-examination of Gare Palma IV/2 & IV/3 or Tara coal blocks which have been won by its subsidiary Jindal Power Limited (JPL)."

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