After the success of two rounds of coal block auctions, in which the government raised over Rs200,000 crore by auctioning just 29 blocks in two phases, the government on Wednesday said the third round of coal block auctions will begin in April.
The coal ministry, meanwhile, is considering easing qualifying norms for participating companies in order to get more companies to bid for the 20 coal mines being put on the block.
These mines, with about three billion tonnes of reserves will be offered to private developers and the auctions will start later this month, coal ministry sources said.
In the second round of auctions of soon-to-be operational coal blocks, end-use projects where 60 per cent investments have been put in were eligible to participate.
"These are mines which have ready mine plans but most do not have regulatory clearances...The companies might not find them very lucrative unless we lower the investment requirement," sources said.
These 20 mines are in states like Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and West Bengal. About 50 per cent of these mines are likely to be offered to power sector companies.
The blocks on offer include Icchapur with 335 million tonne (mt) of reserves, North Karapura with 212 mt, Bijahan with 130 mt, Tubed with 189 mt and Gare Palma IV/6 with 158 mt.
Meanwhile, the centre has transferred about Rs466 crore to states hosting mine projects received as upfront payment from bidders through auctions.
"No revenue gain for the Centre. The entire amount out of coal block auctions will go to the States. Cooperative federalism at its best," coal secretary Anil Swarup tweeted.
Parliament had last month approved Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2015, which forms part of NDA government's reform agenda.
The government had also last month allotted 38 mines to central and state public sector units, including power major NTPC.