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Updated: April 24, 2013 03:49 IST

Coal blocks allocation arbitrary, says parliamentary panel

Sujay Mehdudia
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A parliamentary committee probing irregularities in coal block allocation has held both the NDA and UPA governments responsible for the
AP A parliamentary committee probing irregularities in coal block allocation has held both the NDA and UPA governments responsible for the "abuse of power."

Wants probe into screening committees’ decision-making process

The Union government had abused power and handed out natural sources to a few fortunate ones without following a transparent system, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Coal has said. It demanded an investigation into the screening committees’ decision-making process in coal blocks allocation and penal action against those involved in such arbitrary process.

In a report on the ‘Review of allotment, development and performance of coal/lignite blocks,’ tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the committee, headed by Trinamool Congress member Kalyan Banerjee, concluded that the coal mine allocations from 1993 to 2010 were unauthorised and illegal, and sought the scrapping of all the mines that had not started production yet.

“The most non-transparent procedure was adopted from 1993 to 2010 for allocation… The government cannot give largesse at its arbitrary discretion or sweet will. It is surprising to note that [for the period] between 1993 and 2004, no data was maintained by the Ministry of Coal in respect of the number of applications received… and only the minutes of the Screening Committee [meetings] held to consider… the application of a particular company were made available…” The report noted that since the committee concluded that the entire process was unauthorised, none should enjoy the benefits of illegal auctions. Therefore, all coal blocks allotted — at least wherever production was not started — should be cancelled immediately. The committee felt that there was a “wilful” delay on the part of private firms in developing the blocks, and the review/monitoring committees ignored the question of end-use projects, giving credit to the perception that the entire exercise was not objective and transparent.

Pointing to the delay in the development of blocks by private firms, the committee sought an explanation from the Ministry and a list of companies that were allotted mines without any end-use project. “Out of the 195 coal blocks allocated so far for captive-mining, 30 have started coal production, and out of the 160 captive coal blocks allocated during 2004-2008, only 2 have started production.”

The committee said it was surprised to find that though 195 blocks with 44.23 billion tonnes of reserves were allotted, the government made no estimate of the value of the coal extracted. It wanted a proper mechanism introduced for correct evaluation. It blamed the delay in the development of blocks on the monitoring committee’s lackadaisical approach. Though the screening committee to identify and approve the allottees was headed by the Secretary (Coal), the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG), constituted to review the allocations and recommend de-allocation of coal and lignite blocks, was headed by the Additional Secretary (Coal).

On the IMG’s recommendation, the government has so far de-allocated 21 mines given to private firms, while bank guarantees were forfeited or deducted in the case of 19 blocks.

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The report says all coal blocks allocation is illegal. Same report says non operative coal blocks should be cancelled. It means coal blocks in operation is legally allotted. What is this... You should say to cancel all coal blocks irrespective of operation or not.

from:  Balaguru
Posted on: Apr 24, 2013 at 17:45 IST

Coal Mining is not an easy task under the present regulatory regime. To start a mine, number of clearances from State & Central Govt are required apart from rehabilitation & resettlement of land oustees. The Govt guidelines have stipulated a time frame of 36 months for non-forest & 42 months for forest areas, are totally un-realistic. After allocation of coal blocks, many companies have erected/commissioned their End Use Plants & made substantial investments on coal blocks. For this, these serious companies have sought loans from the banks. IMG has de-allocated coal blocks related with such serious players without going into details. Hence, giving a generalised view to scrap all the coal blocks would be a fatal decisions for those who have already started their End Use Plants & starving for coal. Govt has cleared many Mining Plans of 10-40 MTPA capacity but never thought how this coal will move without proper railway networks? Simply cancelling these blocks is not a solution.

from:  ARCHANA
Posted on: Apr 24, 2013 at 12:52 IST

158 out of 160 mines allotted in last 9 years of UPA have not started
mining..if the logic for hasty allotment was for faster production
then govt failed to ensure that & if it has not been mined, that does
not mean govt is not at loss as some UPA minister are speaking
publicly..the point is, govt no longer has those mines under their
control and so, unless govt or the court cancels minig licences, it is
no longer govt property..On the contrary,few mines were assigned to
CIL which are hazardous & difficult to mine mines & rather easy & open
cast mines were allotted to private companies like Jindal which are
yet to start mining..After a long time we have someone as a CAG, who
is actually doing his duty..But off late there is a tendency to pull
Vajpayee govt into all the muddle that UPA has done, like JPC report
on 2G.. the allocations under these 2 different govt should be
examined differently as the allocations & situation under which these
mines were allocated r very contrasting

from:  Rohit
Posted on: Apr 23, 2013 at 20:57 IST

Some light at the end of the tunnel. But nothing can stop politicians finding other venues to
legalized corruption.

from:  Senthil Natarajan
Posted on: Apr 23, 2013 at 18:40 IST

All such large heartedness of politicians will always be used to fill
their own pockets and those of their eik/ kith and kin. God help this
country!!

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Apr 23, 2013 at 17:12 IST

This is one side of the story of illegal mining in India. The other side of the story is recycling the permit or lease. The illegal income in this direction is running in to lakhs of crores each year. Where this money is going? Last one week one TV channel in Andhra Pradesh high lighted these in sand, iron ore, abrakam ore, granite, etc and around 30% of coal pilferage. In the last few years media attacks on Gali & Jagan [as majority of print & electronic media belong to political rivals of these two] and separate movement to divert people's attention on the rampant illegal mining activities in the state that have political & its media support. I think there is an urgent need to look in to this alternate illegal mining activity more than or equivalent to central budget each year. This money will help to clear debt burden and use the money for major infrastructure projects. In this act unfortunately all political parties are involved!!!

from:  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Posted on: Apr 23, 2013 at 16:35 IST
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