Govt kick-starts reallocation of coal blocks, beginning with PSU quota

The government today started the process of reallocating cancelled coal mines with the first lot of 36 blocks being allocated to state-run companies.

Of the 36 blocks, one mine will be leased out to the steel sector while the rest will be given to the power projects.

"Except one block which will be going for steel sector, rest will be for power sector," coal secretary Anil Swarup said. The government intends to complete the process of allotment of coal blocks by the end of February, he added.

"Today we are issuing notification for allotment of 36 coal blocks. More mines would be added subsequently depending on the requirement. So it will depend on the request we receive from the state entities, public sector entities," he added.

Swarup said those firms which already have coal linkages will have to surrender them and that the ministry will also issue guidelines for the coal blocks being allocated afresh.

''We have enabled such public entities that have already coal linkages. They can surrender the coal linkages and then apply for coal blocks...and once the linkage gets surrendered that much coal will be made available to Coal India to be given to other entities who are in need of coal,'' he said.

The government, Swarup said, will put another 23 producing (scheduled II) mines for auction between 14 and 22 February and the vesting orders will be issued by 23 March.

Yet another lot of 23 ready-to-produce (schedule III) mines will be auctioned between 25 February and 5 March. However the vesting orders will be issued by 2 April, he said.

''We started with 42 mines in schedule II and 32 mines in schedule III. Subsequently 27 mines were transferred from schedule I to schedule III thereby taking the number to 101,'' he said.

He said of the 101 coal blocks examined by the coal ministry in detail, three blocks are in ''No Go'' area, leaving only 98 mines available for auction.

About 167 companies have made requests for visiting the block sites.

So far, he said, 87 bidders have purchased 224 forms for mines to be auctioned in the schedule II category, while 82 firms have purchased forms for in the case of mines to be put on offer in the Schedule III category.