In a bid to expedite coal auction process, the Centre has announced a nine-member panel, which will identify more blocks, in addition to already selected 54 mines, for sale through competitive bidding.
“In pursuance of auction by Competitive Bidding of Coal Mines, Rules, 2012... a committee under the chairmanship of Additional Secretary, Ministry of Coal ...is hereby constituted for identifying coal blocks for allocation (auction purposes),” the Coal Ministry said in a notification.
The committee will also select blocks from areas explored after 2008.
The Ministry said it will also examine the status of CBM (coal-bed methane) blocks and areas relinquished by operators.
Besides, it will also examine the status of preparedness of Coal India for development of already allotted blocks to it and find out scope of re-allocation of blocks of CIL, keeping in view their long-term production commitments.
It is also mandated to identify de-allocated blocks in which there is no legal dispute.
The members of the committee have been drawn from the Coal Ministry, Coal India and its subsidiaries and office of the Coal Controller.
The Coal Ministry has already offered three blocks for auction for captive use for steel, cement and sponge iron companies — two in Jharkhand and one in West Bengal.
Last year, it had allocated 17 coal mines to central and state public sector units, including four to NTPC.
It had planned to auction 54 coal blocks with total estimated reserves of about 18 billion tonnes.
The Cabinet last year in September had approved the methodology for auctioning coal blocks, providing for upfront and production-linked payments and bench marking of coal sale prices.