Millennium Post

‘Coal block auction rules being prepared carefully’

Stating that e-auction norms for cancelled coal blocks are being worked out ‘carefully’, Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said there would be significant traction in the whole process by the end of this month.

Goyal, who is the Minister of State for Coal and Power (independent charge), exuded confidence that mines that would be auctioned would adequately satisfy the needs of existing power plants.

‘We are doing the work very cautiously, carefully to ensure transparency, to ensure fairness in the whole process,’ Goyal said here.

Responding to a query on when rules for e-auction of coal blocks are expected, the minister said these are issues of very large dimension which are going to be sustainable for many years to come.

‘The rules are under (the process of) framing and I would expect that by the end of this month, you will see significant traction in the whole process,’ he told reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by NTPC. In the wake of Supreme Court cancelling 214 coal block allocations, the government last month came out with an ordinance to auction the coal mines through e-auction.

The Supreme Court in September cancelled the allotment of 214 coal mines to various companies since 1993 on the ground that they were done in an illegal manner by an ‘ad-hoc and casual’ approach ‘without application of mind’.

According to Goyal, the government has drawn up timelines having specific dates on which each item would be done.

‘You have seen that we have already notified the authorities under the Act, the commissioner for payments has already been notified,’ the minister said.

A committee is also working on deciding the compensation for mining infrastructure and land.
‘We are opening up so many of these mines for auction that we believe that most of the requirements of the existing plants will be fairly and adequately satisfied after the auctions,’ Goyal said.

Right now, the minister said the focus is to ensure continuity in coal production and that there is no supply disruption.

When asked about possible bills that his ministries would be bringing during the Winter Session of Parliament, Goyal said that the coal ordinance would obviously be presented.

Goyal said that a solution has to be found for the stranded gas-based power plants as part of efforts to ensure increased electricity generation.

‘We have to find a solution for the stranded gas plants and we are finding solutions to all national assets in power sector to ensure that we can increase power generation as much as possible with indigenous fuel sources if at times we need to supplement it with imported fuel in the short term, we may even consider that,’ he said.

He was responding to a query on whether the government is looking at gas-pooling. To ramp up power generation, Goyal said more and more electricity transmission lines are being approved.
‘I would appeal to the states that they support us with land acquisition and right of way so that transmission lines can be set up expeditiously,’ he noted.
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