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90 coal blocks face de-allocation threat

September 03, 2012 14:20 IST
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Amid the raging row over coal block allocation, as many as 90 mines face the threat of de-allocation as these are under scanner for non-production. Of these, 58 coal blocks are in the immediate focus with an Inter-Ministerial Group set to decide their fate on Monday.

The government has already issued de-allocation notices to these 58 blocks -- 33 alloted to government firms and 25 to private entities.

Besides these, there are 32 more whose cases would be reviewed by the IMG in its subsequent meetings, sources said. These 32 cases had been reviewed by the IMG in its previous meeting, they said.

Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal had said on Sunday that any number of coal blocks could be cancelled if found that allocation was made in a wrongful manner or failed to start production in the stipulated time frame.

"On the basis of the IMG report, the allocations which were made in a wrongful manner or those allottees who have failed to start production of coal in a time-bound manner may face action. Any number of coal blocks can be cancelled," Jaiswal had said.

Of the total 195 coal blocks allocated to both public and private firms over a decade, only 30 mines have begun production as per the government records.

In its recent report tabled in Parliament, the Comptroller and Auditor General stated that undue benefits to the tune of Rs 1.86 lakh crore were extended to private firms on account of allocation of 57 mines to them without auction.

The IMG comprising representatives from different ministries may recommend cancellation of such blocks, which did not comply to the development norms.

The sources said the firms in their replies furnished to the Ministry have cited various reasons, including land acquisition problems, delays in forestry and environment clearances and law and order problems for delays in developing the blocks.

The government in April began the process of issuing notices to companies that failed to develop the 58 coal blocks within the stipulated time. The notices were issued to firms like Reliance Power's Sasan, Tata Power, Hindalco and Grasim Industries, ArcelorMittal, GVK Power, MMTC and others.

In July, the government formed the IMG to review progress of coal blocks allocated to companies for captive use. The government had last year cancelled the allocation of

Fourteen coal mines and one lignite mine to companies, including NTPC and DVC for failure to develop the blocks.
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