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Govt may cancel coal block allocations


The government may cancel the allocation of more than 50 of the 57 coal blocks mentioned in the recent CAG report if it finds that the mining projects have not made much progress. The move is aimed at halting the persistent attack on the UPA government after the Comptroller and Auditor General of India — the state auditor — estimated in a recent report that arbitrary allocation of 57 blocks to 25 private companies might have robbed the exchequer of a R1.86-lakh-crore potential earning.


A decision on this is expected in the next few days, top sources told Hindustan Times adding that the blocks likely to be de-allocated have about 7 billion tonne of extractable coal. Some of these blocks are likely to be handed out to state-owned Coal India Ltd.


The sources told HT that the progress of projects of as many as 17 companies had so far been found to be inadequate.


The government is likely to kick-off the auction process of coal blocks next year after credit rating firm Crisil submits its report on the methodology.


What’s more, the sources said mining rights of many captive coal blocks handed out to private companies during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance rule between 1999 and 2004 might be cancelled.


An inter-ministerial group (IMG), which is slated to meet in the next few days, will recommend a set of measures, including the likely cancellation of mining leases to companies that have not begun even the basic work, such as land acquisition or forest clearance.


Coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, hinting that the cancellation of mining rights of captive coal blocks was under consideration, said, “We will take all steps that the IMG recommends.”


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