Coal allocation: 5 more firms appear before government panel

Five more companies will appear today before the inter-ministerial group (IMG) reviewing the working of captive coalmines awarded to private companies.

The IMG, which had sent out show-cause notices to at least 25 firms for not starting production from their allocated mines, on Friday heard from eight companies allotted blocks, when companies such as Anil Ambani-promoted Reliance Power, Bhushan Steel, Tata Sponge Iron Ltd, ArcelorMittal, Jindal Steel, and DB Power presented their mining plans.

The IMG meeting is taking place in the backdrop of demand to cancel 142 allocations, which are under the scanner after a Comptroller & Auditor General report alleging huge losses to the government through the arbitrary allocation of coal blocks.

In its report tabled recently in Parliament, the CAG stated that undue benefits to the tune of Rs1,86,000 crore were extended to private firms on account of allocation of 57 coal blocks to them.

Reliance Power's chief executive officer J P Chalasani said his company has presented before the inter-ministerial panel mining plans related to coal blocks attached with the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project.

Bhushan Steel & Strips Ltd discussed its Patrapara in Orissa for its sponge iron plant. Neeraj Singal, vice-chairman & managing director of the company presented its case.

Ujjwal Chatterjee, chief operating officer of Tata Sponge, said environment and forest clearances are the major hurdles in developing coal mines. Radhikapur (East) coal block in Talcher, Orissa has been allocated to the company.

Chatterjee said the company would begin production from the block in the next 18 months.