Millennium Post

Govt cautious about next coal auction

The government on Friday said that auction of 54 coal blocks would not be possible this year because of the long process involved in it.

‘It (the allocation of coal mines through competitive bidding route) would not be possible this year,’ coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said.

‘Our government believes in transparency. All the coal blocks (to be allocated through auction route) were identified,’ the minister added. He also said that once Crisil submits its report – on the methodology to determine the reserve price for auction of 54 mines the ministry has identified for allocation–the bidding process would begin. ‘The coal ministry will ensure that that there is no lacunae in any process,’ the minister said.

The minister's statement comes in the context of a CAG report estimating a huge gain of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to private firms in allocation of 57 coal blocks, disrupting Parliament for the fourth consecutive day.

On the day on which the CAG report was tabled in the Parliament last week, the minister had told reporters that the process of allocation of coal blocks through auction route would begin soon.

Global firm Crisil had emerged as the lowest financial bidder for the coal ministry's contract to prepare the methodology for determining reserve price for coal block auctions and the coal ministry had asked it to submit its report in three months.

The coal ministry has identified 54 coal blocks for various sectors, including 16 for power, 12 for steel and 12 for government firms. Fnance minister P Chidambaram said, ‘Crisil is preparing the document. We have asked Crisil to expedite the bidding process. Bidding documents are being prepared in consultation with the state governments. Once the bidding documents are finalised, the new policy will come into effect. We are trying to quicken the process as much as possible’.

Chidambaram who is heading the group of minister to decide on a regulator for the coal sector said: ‘We are identifying the aspects which should be with the coal regulator and aspects which should not be with the coal regulator. The bill is being redrafted. I am confident that it will come back to the GoM and I assure you that in one more meeting of the GoM, we will wrap it up and take it to the Cabinet,’ he said.
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