The inter—ministerial committee (IMC) today discussed issues raised by bidders for three coal blocks put up for auction and will clarify their concerns next week.

The IMC meeting, headed by Coal Secretary S K Srivastava, lasted more than two hours. The meeting was convened to sort out the issues bidders had raised in the pre—bid meeting earlier this month.

“We have discussed the issues raised by the bidders and will get back to them after finalising the minutes. There are 30—odd bidders who turned up in the pre—bid meeting,” a senior Coal Ministry official said.

Interested parties were concerned on issues like whether a consortium can have more than four participating companies or not. There were concerns of trivial nature as well like copies to be initialed in blue ink or not.

The government in late February had initiated the auction process putting two Jharkhand mines —— Jhirki & Jhirki (West) of East Bokaro Coalfield and Tokisud—II of South Karanpura Coalfield and Andal Babuisol of Raniganj Coalfield in West Bengal on block.

These three have an estimated 500 million tonnes of reserves, for captive use of steel, cement and sponge iron firms.

The move came after the Centre drew flak for delaying the auction from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

The government auditor had alleged that allotment of 57 mines to private firms without auction resulted in a notional loss of Rs 1.8 lakh crore to the exchequer.

The IMC also took a call on whether bidders should be allowed to take sample of coal from Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL) to perform the yield analysis of Jhirki coal block, but the official did not disclose further.

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