Concerned over tardy progress in development of captive coal blocks by private and public firms, the Centre has asked the states to form a committee headed by chief secretary to monitor and expedite the mining process.

“To expedite the process of development of coal blocks, it is considered desirable to introduce a system of monitoring of the development of coal blocks by a monitoring committee, headed by the Chief Secretary of coal-bearing states,” Coal Secretary S K Srivastava said in a letter to the states.

The development comes in the wake of unsatisfactory progress by firms in starting mining from a total of 178 coal blocks encompassing 44 billion tonnes of reserves lying with various players.

In the letter to Chief Secretaries of Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat, Srivastava said representatives from departments of Mines, Forest, Revenue, Geology and Environment from states be included in such monitoring committees besides Ministry of Coal, Coal Controller and CIL arm CMPDIL.

“The Committee may monitor development of coal block as well as production and utilisation of the coal in the concerned end-use plant,” the letter said.

The Committee may review the progress of development of coal blocks located in the state periodically along with the progress of setting up of the linked end use plant and made recommendations to the Coal Ministry, it added.

Further, Mr. Srivastava has said that it was observed during the review of the blocks by an Inter-Ministerial panel that most of the allottees were facing major constraints in areas related to grant of mining lease, which is executed by state governments, land acquisition including forest land, resettlement and rehabilitation issues besides green nods.

The Centre had formed an Inter-Ministerial Group, headed by Additional Secretary, Coal to undertake periodic review of development of coal and lignite blocks.

So far, 218 coal blocks with geological reserves of about 50 billion tonnes have been allocated to public and private firms under the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973.

However, of these, 47 mines have already been de-allocated due to unsatisfactory progress while two were reallocated to eligible firms and in case of five others de-allocation letters were withdrawn, leaving the total number of allocated mines at present to 178.