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75 coal mines to go under the hammer in second round of auction

By Shreya Jai
February 25, 2021 16:08 IST
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In order to keep the interest of new and small players intact, the coal ministry is offering only small- and medium-sized coal mines in the second round.

As many as 75 mines will go under the hammer in the second round of auction of commercial coal mines.

Thirty-eight mines were on offer in the first round, of which 19 were sold.

Out of the 75 mines, 70 are coking mines, used in the thermal power generation sector and five are non-coking mines for steel and metals sector.

 

There are 40 mines that have already been explored with the remaining being partially explored.

Chhattisgarh accounts for the highest number of mines, followed by Jharkhand and Odisha.

In the first round, Madhya Pradesh had the highest number of mines.

Last year, the Centre allowed private firms to commercially mine and sell coal– 47 years after coal mining was nationalised in India.

The government amended the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015, in May to open up the coal auction for non-mining, MSMEs and foreign firms.

The two-part auction concluded in November.

In order to keep the interest of new and small players intact, the coal ministry is offering only small- and medium-sized coal mines in the second round.

Most of the mines offered have been evaluated to not fall in eco-sensitive zones, Business Standard reported.

The ministry of coal, in a stakeholders’ discussion, said blocks/ mines having over 40 per cent of green cover have been excluded.

“Blocks/ mines falling under un-notified Lemru Elephant Reserve of Chhattisgarh, wildlife habitat of Great Indian Bustard, Kinnersani ESZ, Tiger Reserve/ Corridor, heavily built-up areas, etc. have been excluded,” said a presentation by the ministry.

The officials also informed that mines which are under litigation have also been excluded.

“We used the decision support system (DSS) of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to identify forest cover near and around the mines.

"The mines with thick forest cover and are in eco-sensitive zones have been kept in abeyance.

"For now, we are offering small mines which do not have large land banks and forest cover,” a senior official said, last month.

In the first round of auctions, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh protested against some mines which were in eco-sensitive zones.

One mine each from Mah­arashtra and Chhattisgarh were rem­oved from the first phase as they were near a tiger reserve and river bank.

The Union coal ministry would also offer new mines which were not part of the original list of 205 mines, whose allocation were cancelled by the Supreme Court.

Officials said mines under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 and Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957 will be offered.

Photograph: Ahmad Masood/Reuters

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Shreya Jai in New Delhi
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