Special Correspondent

Jaiswal convenes meeting of 17 States on August 10

To firm up competitive bidding process

To prepare coal-bearing land use maps

NEW DELHI: The Coal Ministry has convened a meeting of the Ministers of 17 coal and lignite producing States on August 10 to discuss policy changes, including ushering in an era of competitive bidding in allocation of coal and lignite blocks for captive mining.

The Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal has written to the Chief Ministers of all the 17 States asking them to depute their respective Ministers to take part in the meeting with an agenda to discuss changes in the policy relating to the use of coal-bearing land and firm up a competitive bidding process. The Minerals and Metals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, governs, at present, the process of exploration, mining and allotment of coal and lignite blocks. A Screening Committee of the Ministry allocates blocks for captive use after assessing the requirement of applicants on the basis of certain techno-economic criteria.

Official sources said the meeting would hold elaborate discussions on the recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee on Coal and Steel on Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2008, presented in Parliament on February 19. One of the key issues will be preparation of land use maps in respect of coal-bearing land to restrict its use for coal mining only.

Other issues to be taken up in the crucial meet will be resettlement and rehabilitation, obligations towards community welfare and peripheral area development (corporate social responsibility) and establishment of a Local Area Development Authority by the State governments.

Ministers of Mines and Geology of coal-bearing States, including Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jammu & Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are likely to attend the meet. Apart from these States, Ministers from lignite bearing States — Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Puducherry and Kerala — will attend.