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NDA story emerges in Coalgate, as ministry deallocates 4 blocks

The first set of recommendations made by the inter-ministerial group (IMG) for the deallocation of coal blocks allotted to private companies would have warmed the hearts of the beleaguered United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which was quick to deallocate four blocks made to three private companies. On the recommendation of the IMG, the coal ministry on Thursday decided to de-allocate four blocks and encash bank guarantees of three others belonging to private companies. They have been penalised for not setting up end-use plants and also failing to start production from the mines.

The three de-allocated mines were handed over to the private parties during the reign of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in 2003. The approval for their allocation came when Kadiya Munda was coal minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Munda, presently the deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha, is a veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and hails from Jharkhand. There are already widespread allegations that the large number of mines which were handed over to private parties were allocated following the MoU signed between the Arjun Munda-led BJP government in the state and the companies for making mega investments in the state.

Of the four de-allocated coal blocks, two are located in Jharkhand and two in Maharashtra. The IMG on Thursday took up cases of eight blocks allocated to five companies. The IMG also recommended deduction of bank guarantees in the case of Marki Mangli-II, III and IV blocks in Maharashtra, allocated to Shri Virangana Steels Ltd. This company is registered in Nagpur. It had submitted a bank guarantee of Rs 2 crore.

About the steel major Monnet Ispat, the IMG directed to submit bank guarantee, amounting to three years' royalty within a period of one month from the date of the issue of the letter, failing which the block may be deallocated. It relates to allocation of the Utkal B2 block in Odisha.

Though the coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal has denied any design behind de-allocation of mines belonging to the NDA regime, sources said that mines were being examined chronologically from the date of allocation and in the next round, allocations made during UPA regime would be taken up. The ministry officials were confident that the review and action process should get completed before middle of next week.
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