By BS Reporter
The state government has sought detail status of two coal blocks which were allotted jointly to Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) and three other O P Jindal group firms seven years ago.
“Information regarding the present status of the coal blocks and end use projects of the co-allocatees of the coal block is not available in this department. Furnish coal block allocation letter and approved mining plan to this department at the earliest for reference and necessary action,” state steel and mines department told MCL, the subsidiary of Coal India Ltd (CIL).
The Union coal ministry had allotted Utkal-A and Gopal Prasad West coal blocks to MCL, JSW Steel, Jindal Stainless Steel Ltd, Jindal Thermal, and Shyam DRI in 2005.
MCL holds largest share in these blocks with about 60 per cent stake in the joint venture company formed under the banner of MJMJ Coal Ltd in 2007 for development of the coal blocks. However, the project is yet to take off due to unavailability of clearances.
While allocating the blocks in 2005, it was stipulated by the Union coal ministry that coal production from the Utkal-A block was to begin within 36 months (42 months in case of forest land) in case of open cast mine and 48 months (54 months if the block falls under forest land) in case of underground mine.
“We are awaiting forest and environment clearance after which we will be able to start mining,” said a senior official of MCL.
The JV company was issued show cause notice by the Coal Ministry in 2010 for not taking serious efforts to develop the coal blocks. The Ministry had pointed out that the allocatee company has repeatedly failed to keep its promises made on earlier occasions and inferred that it is non-serious about the project.
Recently, the Centre has de-allocated five coal blocks out of total 33 blocks granted in the state to different companies which were not able to start coal mining even after six to seven years of allocation.
After de-allocating three coal blocks - Utkal-D, Manadakini-B and Baitarani West allocated to two Odisha PSUs, the Coal ministry has sought details of joint venture (JV) arrangements with private players and mode of selection of the JV partners.
The coal ministry in a recent letter to Odisha chief secretary B K Patnaik, sought to know if the state PSU that was allotted coal blocks entered into a JV arrangement with private companies and whether legal opinion was sought for such an arrangement.