The Odisha government today expressed its strong opposition at the Union coal ministry’s decision to de-allocate Baitarani coal mines meant for the state PSUs, saying that the decision was lopsided as the recommendation made by the inter ministerial group (IMG) did not take into account all side of the issue.
“IMG’s report has completely ignored the progress taken place in developing the Baitarani West coal block and respective end use projects and caused an action to de-allocate the coal block as well as to invoke 50 per cent of bank guarantee accruing to Rs 37.50 crore,” said B K Patnaik in a letter addressed to Union coal secretary, S K Srivastava.
In December 2012, the coal ministry, basing on the recommendation of IMG, had de-allocated Baitarani coal block allotted jointly to Odisha Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC), Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd (GCPL) and Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) citing no serious effort was taken by the state PSUs to develop the coalfield.
The inter-ministerial group was formed in July 2012 after coal scam row, to scrutinise the status of allocated coal reserves. IMG, in November, had recommended to de-allocate eight coal blocks given to PSUs citing delay in developing the blocks.
It observed that Baitarani West is a fully explored block and five years had elapsed since the date of allotment (July 2007). It noted that no progress has been made on any of the three end-use projects to be set up in Odisha, Gujarat and Kerala. Besides, no indication was given by the allocatees on expected date of start of production from the block even though the normative date for commencing production was January 25, 2011.
Moreover, the allocatees were yet to obtain either environment or forest clearance, nor were they able to take possession of land since the approval of mining plan in 2009, the IMG pointed out.
Odisha said, the allocatees have no control over achieving these milestones.
“Coal allocatees have no control on all those activities i.e approval of mining plan, issue of terms of reference, issue of administrative approval etc wherein various central government agencies are involved. IMG has fixed responsibility for delay on allocatee incorrectly,” Patnaik said.
The state government said, the power plants proposed by GPCL and OHPC are scheduled to be commissioned during 2016-17. Hence, keeping in view these projects, Baitarani mines was planned to start operation in 2016-17. It further requested for re-allocation of the mine only in favour of its PSU. “Ministry of coal is requested to review the recommendation submitted by IMG for de-allocation of coal block with invocation of 50 per cent bank guarantee and allocate the entire Baitarani coal block in favour of OHPC,” Patnaik said.