Buoyed by success, govt to soon auction more coal blocks

The government is preparing to add more money to its coffers through the auction of another set of 15 to 20 coal blocks next month, following parliamentary approval of the coal mines bill.

In addition, the government is also likely to allot 43 mines to central and state public sector units this week.

"The government is planning to come out with Notice Inviting Tender for auction of 15-20 mines by the third-week of next month," an official said.

The government has already garnered over Rs2 lakh crore from auctioning just 33 blocks, surpassing the Rs1.86 lakh crore estimated loss the Comptroller & Auditor General of India had estimated as the loss through the allotment of mines without auction.

However, the government rejected bids received for four coal blocks on the much-criticised ground that the bids were too low. The mines for which bids were rejected include Gare IV/2, Gare Palma IV/3 and Tara coal blocks in Chhattisgarh in which JSPL had emerged as the highest bidder, and Gare Palma IV/1 mine bagged by Bharat Aluminium Company (See: Jindal to pay Rs108 per tonne, Ruia Rs1,110 a tonne as coal blocks auction hits Day 6).

The government is believed to be preparing to allot the three cancelled coal blocks, for which JSPL and Balco had emerged as the highest bidders in the recently concluded auction, to state-owned Coal India Ltd, a virtual monopoly.

Parliament last week approved Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2015, which forms part of NDA government's reforms agenda, in the nick of time on the last day of the first half of Budget session and the ordinance on this were to lapse on 5 April.