Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on Wednesday accused the Opposition-ruled Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Orissa of blocking the smooth implementation of the competitive bidding process, initiated by the Centre in 2004.

At a press conference here, he said the competitive bidding process for coal blocks allocation could not be implemented due to stringent opposition from coal-rich Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Orissa and West Bengal when it was ruled by the Left Front government. Hence it was wrong to blame Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue.

Though the concept of allocation of captive coal blocks through competitive bidding was first mooted in 2004, the modus operandi is yet to be worked out by the government. It is estimated that the first of the coal blocks would be put for bidding by this year end.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said earlier this week private firms are likely to gain a whopping Rs. 1.86 lakh crore from allocation of 57 coal blocks without competitive bidding between 2005 and 2009.

“Delay in introduction of the process of competitive bidding has rendered the existing process beneficial to the private companies. Audit has estimated financial gains to the tune of Rs. 1.86 lakh crore likely to accrue to private coal block allottees,” the report tabled in Parliament on August 17 said.

The CAG arrived at the estimates on the basis of the average cost of production and average sale price of opencast mines of Coal India in 2010-11.

“The Coal Ministry tried but in vain to bring the erring States on board on the issue. The States had opposed the bidding idea as they apprehended this would impact industrial activity as coal would become costlier,” Mr. Jaiswal said. A debate in Parliament would bring out the real picture. It was wrong on part of the Opposition to create ruckus in Parliament and avoid a debate.

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