Telangana: Coal block auction heats up politics, turns headache for minister Kishan Reddy

The opposition BRS has questioned the rationale for putting the blocks on sale instead of allocating them to Telangana's PSU-Singareni Collieries.
Last Updated : 20 June 2024, 16:25 IST

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Hyderabad: Even as the Centre is getting ready to auction its next tranche of coal blocks, political sparks are running high and thick in Telangana. The new union coal minister, G Kishan Reddy, is scheduled to launch the auction of 60 coal blocks spread across different parts of the country, including one in Telangana, in Hyderabad on Friday, likely in his first assignment.

Whereas state deputy chief minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka is also scheduled to participate in the launch of the auction, the opposition BRS has questioned the rationale for putting the blocks on sale instead of allocating them to Telangana's PSU-Singareni Collieries.

In the past, the Centre had made attempts to put up four coal mines in the Singareni Collieries—Kalyan Khani block-6, Koyagudem block-3, Sathupalli block-6, and Shravanapalli—for sale under the fourth tranche of the auction as per the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

While there has been no proper response to the earlier auction attempts on the coal blocks in Telangana, on Friday, four Shravana Palli blocks were put out for sale through auction.

The Singareni Collieries Company Ltd. (SCCL) is a public sector undertaking and a joint venture of the Telangana government and the Centre with equity of 51 and 49 percent, respectively. The coal mines of SCCL are spread over Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, and Warangal districts.

BRS Working President and former minister, KT Rama Rao, on Thursday accused both the BJP and Congress, in their respective central and state governments, of undermining Singareni by opting to auction coal mines in Telangana instead of allocating them directly to Singareni.

On Thursday, KTR criticised the Congress state government for participating in the mine auctions instead of demanding direct allocation to Singareni.

Starting Friday, the central government is auctioning more than 60 mines in the country, including Singareni. According to KTR, the state government's participation in the auction contradicts their previous stance of opposing it and seeking direct allocation from the central government to Singareni. He also reminded the public that the present Chief Minister, then PCC President, A Revanth Reddy, had written a letter to the central government asking for the cancellation of the Singareni mines auction and requesting direct allocation to Singareni.

KTR questioned Chief Minister Revanth Reddy's silence over the Central government's auction of mines in the Singareni area. KTR doubted the Chief Minister's silence on this issue, considering his previous opposition when he was not in power. KTR said that their party and their government have stalled the auctioning of coal mines in the Singareni area for the past nine years to safeguard Singareni's future.

“With 16 MPs, neighbouring state's Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is trying to halt the privatisation of Vizag Steel Plant while safeguarding their state's interests. In contrast, the 16 elected MPs from Telangana, both from Congress and the BJP, remain silent despite the central government's attempt to harm the state's prospects through the mines auction,” he said.

24 mines fully explored

On Wednesday, the union coal ministry announced that Kishan Reddy would launch the 10th round of commercial coal mining auctions in Hyderabad on June 21. Minister of State for Coal and Mines Satish Chandra Dubey, Deputy Chief Minister of Telangana Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, and Secretary, Ministry of Coal Amrit Lal Meena, will be present on the occasion.

The upcoming round will offer a total of 60 coal mines. Among these, 24 coal mines are fully explored, while 36 are partially explored.

Additionally, five coal mines are being offered under the second attempt of round nine of commercial coal mining auctions. Of these, four are fully explored, and one is partially explored. Also, two coal mines are being offered under the second attempt of round eight. Of these, one is fully explored, and one is partially explored.

For ease of doing business, the Ministry of Coal has conceptualised a Single Window Clearance System (SWCS) portal to create a platform to obtain various clearances for the early operationalization of coal mines, ultimately resulting in the augmentation of coal production in the country through a single gateway.

Published 20 June 2024, 16:25 IST

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