Inter-ministerial group reviews coal block allocations

September 3rd, 2012 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

ArcelorMittal New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) An inter-ministerial group (IMG) Monday met to review the status of 58 coal blocks where production is not likely to begin by March 2013.

The government has already issued de-allocation notices to these 58 blocks - 33 alloted to government firms and 25 to private entities - for failure to start production within the stipulated time-frame.

These included firms like Tata Power, Hindalco, Grasim Industries, ArcelorMittal, GVK Power, MMTC and others.

According to the coal ministry, of the total 195 coal blocks allocated to both public and private firms over a decade, only 30 mines have begun production.

Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal ruled out cancellation of any coal block allocation untill the IMG, submits its report.

“We have constituted the IMG, which is reviewing 58 coal blocks. It has been asked to submit its report in a time-bound manner and latest by Sep 15. After that we will decide,” Jaiswal told reporters here.

He had ealier said coal blocks could be cancelled if found that allocations had been made in a wrongfully or these failed to start production in the stipulated time frame.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram also Monday rejected the opposition demand for cancelling allocations of 142 coal blocks.

“The demand for cancellation of all 142 coal blocks allocated after 2004 is not founded on sound logic … It (cancellation) cannot be done through dictat or arbitrary orders,” Chidambaram told media persons here.

He said the Prime Minister’s Office had indicated that the government should have a final set of recommendations from IMG as early as possible.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has in a recent report tabled in parliament said that the government lost a whopping Rs.186,000 crore ($33.67 billion) on account of allocation of 57 mines to private parties without auction.

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