The inter-ministerial group (IMG) scrutinising captive coal block allocations is unlikely to meet its September 15 deadline for its final decisions on the controversial subject.
It is to meet tomorrow, but is yet to get the review reports on each allocattee from the Coal Controller Organisation (CCO). The IMG is examining whether or not to cancel allocations where production hasn’t begun.
A final decision on cancellation of blocks would be taken by coal minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal, based on the recommendations of the IMG. The panel had sought a status paper from the CCO. It has so far reviewed the progress on 29 blocks held by private companies. Unhappy with the delay by the coal ministry in acting against the 58 allottees to whom showcause notices had been issued, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had directed expediting the process. Sources added in cases of de-allocation, the legal implications of individual cases were also being examined.
IMG is reviewing blocks based on a host of criteria, including the level of investment made, a measure of the companies’ commitment. The CCO was asked to provide the status paper for each case, including the history of earlier reviews and action taken in each case.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party had highlighted that the PMO, in April this year, expressed displeasure at the inordinate delay in cancelling the blocks where no genuine reasons for delay were found. The coal ministry has willfully dragged its feet on cancelling allotments, Opposition parties allege.
Most companies that have so far presented their cases to the IMG have blamed the hassles on obtaining clearances and land acquisition for the delays. The companies that have so far appeared before the IMG, justifying delays in development of their blocks, include Monnet Ispat & Energy Ltd, Usha Martin, Jayaswal Neco, Electrosteel Casting Ltd, Neelachal Iron & Steel Ltd, Reliance Power, Jindal Power Ltd, Tata Sponge, ArcelorMittal, GVK Power & Infrastructure and Bhushan Steel.
The coal ministry has allocated a total of 195 blocks, with reserves running into a total of 45 billion tonnes since 1993. The Central Bureau of Investigation had, last Tuesday, filed cases against five companies for allegedly making false claims to get blocks awarded.