The Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) looking into the issue of development and allocation of coal blocks during 2004-09 is likely to finalise its report on de-allocation and send it to the Coal Ministry for further action by September 15.
On the last day on Saturday of its three-day marathon session the IMG met a large number of companies including IST Steel and Power, linked to the son of a former Minister in UPA-I, Prem Chand Gupta.
Officials of SKS Ispat and Power, linked to Union Tourism Minister Subodhkant Sahay’s brother, also appeared before the IMG headed by Zohra Chatterjee, Additional Secretary (Coal).
Mr. Gupta’s son Gaurav Gupta is a director in IST Steel and Power. Its representatives led by Director S.C. Jain met the IMG and wondered why a show-cause notice had been issued to them despite work on their coal block Dahegaon-Makardhokra IV in Chhattisgarh progressing on schedule.
“We don’t understand why a show-cause notice was given to us when the block is ready to start production from August, 2014. Our end-use sponge iron plant has also started production,” Mr. Jain said.
The IMG is reviewing the progress in 35 coal blocks which were allocated to private companies between 2005 and 2009. The Dahegaon-Makardhokra IV block was given to IST Steel and Power, along with cement firms Gujarat Ambuja and Lafarge India, in June 2009. The block has a total of 48.84 million tonnes of extractable reserves. IST Steel and Power owns the majority 53 per cent stake in the block.
Mr. Jain said the mining plan for the block was approved and it was likely to get forest clearance soon. SKS Ispat and Power, Tata Iron and Steel Company, JSW, Grasim Industries, Kesoram Industries and Bihar Sponge Iron also appeared before the panel.
The meeting of the panel is taking place in the backdrop of the CAG report, which stated that undue benefits to the tune of Rs. 1.86 lakh crore were extended to private firms on account of allocation of 57 mines to them without bidding.
“The IMG will make its recommendations to the Coal Ministry. The final call on de-allocation or cancellation will be taken by the Ministry,” a senior Coal Ministry official said.