Claiming that there was no scam in coal sector, including that of coal block allocation in states, Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on Tuesday said, the Centre will specially consider the case of Odisha if it participated in the bidding process for allotment of five new coal blocks in the Talcher area.
“There is no scam in the coal sector during the UPA Government. Coal blocks are being allocated since 1993 and we have followed the process. The previous NDA government had allocated 43 coal blocks during its tenure,” Mr. Jaiswal told reporters in Bhubaneswar.
Stating that since the Coal India Limited (CIL) alone cannot meet the growing demands of coal, Mr. Jaiswal said, the government allocated coal blocks to private players as done by previous governments.
“How can you say that all governments indulged in scam in coal block allocation,” he asked adding that from Narashima Rao to Atal Behari Vajpayee government, all allocated coal blocks to private companies.
To a question on de-allocation of three coal blocks given to Odisha’s public sector undertakings, Mr. Jaiswal said, the Ministry has absolutely no role in the process.
“Those who failed to achieve the milestone have been served with de-allocation notices,” he said.
On Odisha government’s demand of re-allocation of de-allocated coal blocks, Mr. Jaiswal said, “We cannot do that (re-allocation). The inter-ministerial group takes decision in that regard. The Ministry has no role in that.”
When asked about Odisha’s steel and mines minister R K Singh’s statement on re-allocation of de-allocated coal blocks to central PSUs like NTPC, the Union Minister said, “We had given commitment to NTPC, but never given similar assurance to Odisha government.”
Earlier, the Coal Ministry had de-allocated three coal blocks like Utkal-D, Mandakini-B and Radhikapur-E coal blocks allocated to Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) and Odisha Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC) respectively.
The state government had recently submitted a memorandum to the Centre demanding re-allocation of the three coal blocks in favour of State PSUs.
The Union Minister, however, said that the Ministry will specially consider the case of Odisha if it participated in the fresh tender for five coal blocks located in the State.
“We will specially consider Odisha’s case if it participates in the bidding process for 5 coal blocks,” Mr. Jaiswal said.
The Ministry of Coal has put five coal blocks — Kudanali-Laburi, Sarapal-Napara, Tentuloi, Chandrabila and Brahmani — in the Talcher coalfield for tender. Last date of tender for the five blocks has been extended till February 8.
Odisha government has already applied for bidding process for four coal blocks except Brahmani, sources said.
When reporters pointed out that though three coal blocks of Odisha PSUs have been de-allocated for non-performance, same yardstick is not used for Chendipada coal block allocated for PSUs of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattishgarh.
“There is no politics in de-allocation process. The de-allocation is done by a committee. The state government’s allegation of favouring other states do not arise as UP and Chhattisgarh are ruled by non-Congress states,” the minister said claiming complete transparency in the coal block allotment process.