Slamming the decision to de-allocate their coal blocks, Jindal Steel and Power and Monnet Ispat and Energy have blamed lack of government approvals and external factors like Naxal activities for not making enough progress in their mines.
The two companies, whose 4 blocks figure in the list of 11 to be de-allocated, said that they are being punished for no fault of theirs.
The de-allocation is seen as a major setback to both as the blocks were supposed to be the captive raw material source for their upcoming/existing steel and power plants. Jindal’s Rs. 80,000-crore mega venture of Coal-to-Liquid project is likely to be hit.
The two companies have together invested over 11,000 crore so far on development of their end-use plants.
“At the outset, we are shocked and surprised to hear the recommendation made by IMG (Inter-ministerial group), it seems that everybody in the policy making/monitoring wants to avoid a pragmatic decision in view of the media hype,” Monnet Ispat spokesperson said in a statement.
The JSPL spokesperson said the company’s coal blocks are being de-allocated “despite best efforts made by the company and no fault on part of the company.”
Last week, the Coal Ministry decided to de-allocate 11 captive coal blocks to various companies. JSPL’s three — Ramchandi promotional block, Amarkonda Murgadangal and Urtan North (jointly with Monnet) — figure in the list. Monnet’s one more block, Rajagamar Dipside (jointly with Topworth Steel), is also part of the list.
The Monnet spokesperson further said 450 hectares of the block, out of total 650 hectares, is over-lapping with a block of the South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) and SECL needs to surrender title of the land and transfer it to Monnet.
He also accused the Coal Ministry of violating its own conditions (clause 17 of General Condition Of Allocation), saying that the caluse “clearly stipulates that any delay in transferring the land by a government company to the coal block allocatee can be claimed as grace period.”
“If IMG has recommended for de-allocation, then they are violating the published guidelines of MoC,” the spokesperson said, adding that Monnet can start development of the block immediately as it needs “to acquire only 5 acre of land for making an entry.”
According to the JSPL spokesperson, the company has made 4 attempts for carrying out exploration at Amarkonda Murgadangal block since April, 2009 but could not do it due to “large amount of extremist/Naxal activities” and “illegal mining” supported by extremists/anti-social elements.
“State government had further agreed to extend the validity of PL (prospective licence) by 2 years 4 months and 8 days under force majeure conditions on June 5, 2013 and we are in the process of starting our fifth attempt to carry out drilling operations in this block,” he said.
The spokesperson of Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL) said its employees, officials and contractors were assaulted or made hostage many times at the site and equipment were damaged.
He added that many complaints and FIRs have been filed on these issues and state and central governments have been informed about it.
Talking about the to be de-allocated Ramchandi promotional block, he said JSPL’s application for prospecting licence is pending with Odisha government for more than three years and the state government has not yet “executed PL on one pretext or the other in spite of a number of reminders.”
“In the circumstances, company could not start exploration activities for no fault of the company,” he said, while noting that the company has already completed various initial work, including detailed feasibility study, for the project and has invested Rs. 74 crore on it.
The Ramchandi block, which has estimated 1.5 billion tonnes of coal reserves, was allocated for ambitious Coal-to-Liquid project in February, 2009 and JSPL had already announced investment Rs. 80,000 crore on the venture.
On Urtan North block, the third to be de-allocated block (jointly allocated with Monnet), JSPL spokesperson said that its Mine Plan is pending for final approval from Coal Ministry for more than six months now. The delay in Coal Ministry’s approval has led to further delay in securing Environment Clearance (EC) as well.
“Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of MoEF, GoI has already considered grant of EC and is mainly pending for submission of Mine Plan approval letter. The Mine Plan approval letter is pending for issuance with Ministry of Coal for more than six months,” the company said.
Monnet, which is also a partner in the block, also echoed the same. It the spokesperson said that grant of EC is in the “final stage” and the company is hopeful that it will be cleared by EAC in their “forthcoming meeting” to be held later this month.
For Monnet, Urtan North and Rajagamar Dipside blocks are supposed to be the captive raw material source for its over a million tonne steel plant in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh, which is now in final stages of commissioning. The company said it has invested over Rs. 6,000 crore to develop the end-use plant.
The Urtan North block is also critical to JSPL’s plans as it was supposed to meet 10-12 per cent of the coking coal needs of its already operational Raigarh steel plant in Chhattisgarh. The company said has invested Rs. 3,416 crore on its development.