The inter-ministerial group (IMG) is likely to continue its evaluation process by another couple of days, to ascertain the progress made by 58 coal blocks.
The extension is due to fact, which during its three-day review period that began on Thursday, the IMG was able to hear out
only 27 private players for delay in development of coal blocks.
“All the coal blocks on agenda for three days have been reviewed,” Zohra Chatterji, additional secretary in the coal ministry, who also heads the IMG, said.
Sources in the government say the IMG needs to hear out the cases of remaining 31 firms in the government sector as well, which might take another couple of days. “We need to hear out the reasons why the public sector firms could not begin coal mining in blocks allocated to them. Only then a final recommendation on de-allocation coal blocks can be made,” a government official said.
Of the 58 coal blocks under review, 25 are with various private players, 2 are ultra mega-power projects and 31 blocks are with public sector firms. The IMG was set up in July to recommend action against the coal block allottees for not meeting timelines set to start coal production. It has representatives from the ministries of finance, power, steel and environment.
Private players that have already presented their case to the IMG include Reliance Power and Monnet Ispat, among others. The public sector firms include Damodar Valley Corporation and Rajasthan Power Generation Corporation, among others.
It is expected that IMG would recommend de-allocation of around 16 coal blocks where the companies have neither obtained environmental clearance nor have acquired the land around their coal blocks and have been merely squatting on the coal blocks.
“Along with the recommendation for de-allocation of non-performing coal blocks, the IMG would also look at the possibility of en-cashing bank guarantees of a few private players for deliberately squatting on the coal blocks,” the official said.