The government is likely to hold coal block auction in March next year, Union Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said on Tuesday.

He also said the government is not considering giving back the 11 coal blocks de-allocated recently.

“The auction of coal blocks may happen by March next year,” the Coal Minister told reporters in New Delhi.

Earlier he had expressed the hope that the auction would happen in December.

An official had said earlier that the government’s aim was to auction 10 blocks in the first tranche instead of six planned initially.

The Coal Ministry had asked CMPDIL, the mine planning and consultancy company of Coal India, to assess the reserves of four more mines and submit its report by next year.

The Cabinet had earlier approved the methodology for auction, providing for upfront and production-linked payments and benchmarking of coal sale prices.

Recently, an official statement had said that coal blocks would be put up for auction after the Environment Ministry’s review and bidders agreed to a minimum work programme.

The policy provides for a production-linked payment on a rupee per tonne basis, plus a basic upfront payment of 10 per cent of the coal block’s intrinsic value.

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