Government to consider cancellation of 53 captive coal blocks: reports

The government is considering cancellation of 53 captive coal block allocations that came under the coal ministry's scanner for the failure of allottees to meet timelines for starting production, Times of India quoted sources as saying yesterday.

Several big corporates, including Tata, Arcelor Mittal and Jindal groups, are among those facing the axe for what official sources called "squatting" over blocks, with the companies having been issued show-cause notices. Their replies were under scrutiny amid indications that these may not pass muster with the coal ministry. A decision may be announces as early as next week.

According to sources, during scrutiny of the replies, it came to light that at least 17 companies had not made any move for land acquisition or getting various clearances even years after the blocks.

The Times of India quoted a coal ministry official as saying that blocks allotted to companies that were found wanting in their efforts to meet the timelines would be de-allocated and in cases where progress was delayed due to genuine reasons such as delayed environment clearances, they may be spared.

The official said the final decision would be taken by the ministerial panel.

According to industry sources, there were cases where companies might have failed to move on developing the blocks, but there were also several cases where the companies were hamstrung by delays in environmental and other clearances or law and order problems.

Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg TV India, eight blocks worth including those of Tata Group and Jindal Power, had not yet received any approvals at all.

The media company citing report by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India , said the eight blocks had not received any of three required clearances - forest, prospecting and land.

The blocks that had been allocated between February 2008 and January 2009 hold  total extractable reserves of 2257 MT.

Block allotted to
CAG's value estimates (Rs cr)
Tata Group Odisha
Jindal Power Odisha
Sterlite, GMR, & Reliance Energy Odisha