Inter-ministerial panel recommends de-allocation of 26 coal blocks

An inter-ministerial committee that has gone into the irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks to public and private sector entities has recommended de-allocation of 26 coal mines.

The panel has so far reviewed the progress of 61 blocks.

"Around 26 coal blocks have been recommended for de-allocation by IMG in the two-day meeting Friday and Saturday," reports quoting sources close to the development said.

The sources, however, did not disclose the names of the companies affected by the recommendation.

The panel reviewed 61 blocks on Friday and Saturday and after the second day of the panel's latest round of meetings it recommended de-allocation of 26 blocks.

The coal ministry had last month served fresh notice to allottees of 61 blocks that had not yet been developed. The companies had been asked to revert by the first week of February.

Among the companies that were served notices for delays in developing the coal blocks allotted to them include Tata Steel, Hindalco Industries and Jindal Steel & Power Ltd.

The government had first decided to de-allocate all captive coal blocks that had yet to receive environment and in-principle forest clearances and had issued show-cause notices to allottees of 61 such mines.

The panel's move followed questions posed by the Supreme Court on the process of allocating coal blocks and the functioning of the screening committee that recommended the allotments.

The companies had been given time until 5 February to obtain clearances and produce proof in support of approvals.

The IMG considered the responses filed for 29 coal blocks allotted to companies, including Tata Steel, JSW Steel and Bhushan Power and Steel on 7 February.

Today, it took up the replies of the remaining 32 coal blocks allocated to firms such as Monnet Ispat and Energy and Jindal Steel and Power.

Prominent allottees whose blocks were under review included Tata Steel Ltd, Tata Sponge Iron Ltd, Tata Power Co. Ltd, Jayaswal Neco Ltd, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Reliance Energy Ltd, Ultratech Ltd, Rungta Mines Ltd, Essar Power Ltd, Hindustan Zinc Ltd, Hindalco Industries Ltd, DB Power Ltd, Adani Power Ltd, Arcelor Mittal Ltd, GVK Power (Govindwal Sahib) Ltd, Bhushan Power & Steel Ltd, Monnet Ispat & Energy, Sterlite Energy Ltd, GMR Energy Ltd, Usha Martin Ltd, JSW Steel Ltd, Jaiprakash Associates Ltd, ACC Cement Ltd, Uttam Galva Steels Ltd, Adhunik Corp. Ltd and SKS Ispat and Power Ltd.

These coal blocks were among those that were allocated between 1993 and 2010, and are being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as part of a Supreme Court-monitored probe.

CBI probe comes in the wake of allegations by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India estimating a notional loss of Rs1,86,000 crore to the exchequer due to the flawed allocation process.