New Delhi: The problem of getting clearances from the states is the main hurdle for developing the coal mines, private sector firms appearing before an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) on allocation of coal blocks said on Friday.
The IMG, which had sent out show-cause notices to at least 25 firms for not starting production from the allocated mines, on Friday heard from eight coal block allottees including ArcelorMittal, JSPL, Reliance Power and DB Power among others.
“They (coal block allottees) are mainly blaming states for delaying clearances inordinately for their projects. They are also pointing fingers at the forest department,” an IMG member, present at the meeting, told PTI.
“Some of the problems they have pointed out are genuine and some are not genuine,” the member said, declining to reveal his identity.
Tata Sponge Iron, which was allocated the Radhikapur East coal block in Odisha with an extractable reserve of 105.24 MT in 2006, pointed out land acquisition and forest clearances as the “major” reasons for the delay in mine development. “The major reason for delay was land acquisition, forest diversion and clearances. There was a moratorium imposed for environment clearances and there was a court case for land acquisition,” Tata Sponge Iron Chief Operating Officer Ujjwal Chatterjee told reporters after the meeting with IMG.
Bhushan Steel said it is currently ” in land acquiring mode”. This essentially means that the company has so far been not able to acquire the required land for developing the mine even after more than five years of getting the New Patrapara coal block in 2006. However, speaking to reporters, Bhushan Steel Chairman and Managing Director Neeraj Singhal said, “We are hopeful that production from our coal block from Patrapara will begin in 2013-14.”
GVK Power and Infrastructure, which was allocated The Seregarha coal block along with steel major ArcelorMittal on January 8, 2008, said production from the block is likely to start in next two-three years. GVK has 45 percent stake in the block with 66.7 MT geological reserves.
Speaking to reporters, GVK Power and Infrastructure’s Managing Director K R Bhupal said the end-use plant, a 540 MW Goindwal Sahib power project, is expected to be commissioned
by the end of next year. “Production from the (Seregarha) coal block will begin in next three to four years. This coal block has been allocated for the first phase of Goindwal Sahib and
for the extension unit at Goindwal Sahib,” Bhupal said.
Reliance Power said it has begun production ahead of schedule from its blocks Moher and Moher-Amlohri extension in Madhya Pradesh, meant to be used as fuel source for the 4,000
MW Sasan Ultra Mega Power Plant.
“We have informed the IMG that coal production at Moher and Moher-Amlori Extension coal block has already commenced. We have also told them that the coal production has started
ahead of schedule,” R-Power CEO J P Chalasani said. “We have to say it is the fastest coal production for any greenfield project in this country till date,” he added.
A CAG report, tabled recently in Parliament, had said the government decision to allow the use of surplus coal from blocks allotted to Sasan UMPP for other projects of Reliance
Power resulted in an undue benefit of Rs 29,033 crore to the company. Commencing a three-day exercise, the panel had on Thursday heard from 10 allottees the reasons for delay in developing their mines.
On the last day today, around 10 coal block allottees are likely to appear before the panel to reply to their show-cause notices.
In July, the government had formed an IMG to review progress of coal blocks allocated to companies for captive use. The meeting of the panel is taking place in the backdrop
of a CAG report, recently tabled in the Parliament, 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.