‘No green nod needed for 74 coal blocks to be auctioned in Feb’
The 74 coal mines, which the government plans to auction to specific end-users in the first phase of bidding on 11 February, will not require any green clearances, a top official has said.
The auction will be for the private sector, while state-owned companies will get mines via allotment.
The 74 blocks to be auctioned are from 204 mines whose allocations were quashed terming their allotment as ‘arbitrary and illegal’ by the Supreme Court.
‘In these 74 blocks, the clearances that have been given in the past shall pass on to the new allotees. The Ministry of Environment and Forests is working out a formulation. But in principle they have agreed that there would not be any requirement for fresh clearances,’ Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said.
‘Land acquisition is not an issue for these blocks, nor environment clearances,’ he added.
The government had last week announced auctioning and allotment of 74 blocks — 42 blocks, which are already into production and another 32 which are ready for production — in the first phase of bidding. These blocks have a potential to produce 210 million tonnes of coal. Asked about the remaining 130 mines, Swarup said the focus as of now is on the blocks, which were already producing or ready for production, and the matters related to the remaining blocks would be taken up later as ‘there are many other things to be done. So there is no urgency in that’.
To a question when the government intends to allow commercial mining, Swarup said: ‘The government is first considering these 74 coal blocks. Thereafter, a view will be taken on whether or when or how commercial mining will happen.’
The government had also announced that it is considering auctioning or allotting more than 74 blocks in the first phase as it wants enough number of coal mines available to power firms.
It is in the process of finalising the exact number of additional mines on the basis of the nature of the blocks. The government had already made it clear that the number of mines a company can bid will be capped to avoid monopoly.
The e-auction of coal blocks will have a two-stage tender process of technical and financial bids.