The coal ministry has cancelled the allocation of at least three of the five coal blocks allotted to state-run National Thermal Power Corp Ltd, the country's biggest power producer, saying the company was ''not serious about developing them''.
In two separate notices to the company, the ministry said the allocations of three coal blocks - Chatti Bariatu, Kerandari and Chatti Bariatu (South) - in Jharkhand - have been cancelled as it feels the "company is not serious about the development of the coal blocks." The coal blocks were allocated in 2006 and 2007.
''The company shall not be eligible for allocation of any alternate coal block in lieu of the 'deallocated' blocks,'' the coal ministry said in a letter to NTPC. The five blocks have a combined reserve of three billion tonnes.
Although several reports suggested that the ministry had cancelled five blocks, the company said the it has so far not received any notice about the cancellation of the two other coal blocks - Brahmini and Chichro Patsimal - that were given to it jointly with Coal India Ltd.
The company reacted with dismay, saying it "surprised" with the decision, which was ''irrational'' and ''lacked transparency'', adding that it had done more work on its blocks than other private firms had done on theirs.
"The whole process / decision of de-allocation is not at all transparent and needs a holistic and rational review," an official said in reactions to the media. "There is no delay on part of NTPC in development of these coal blocks."