Reiterating the government’s promise to bring in transparency in coal auctions, minister for power, coal and renewable energy Piyush Goyal strongly defended his ministry’s decision to cancel the four coal blocks for low bids.
The cancelled coal blocks were won by Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL) and Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco) in the recently-concluded auctions.
In a freewheeling interaction with senior editors and management of HT, the minister highlighted the success of coal auctions. On the Centre’s decision not to accept the lower bids, Goyal insisted that he did not suspect cartelization, but as a government, it was his ministry’s responsibility to take care of the value of national assets.
“This is exactly former prime minister Manmohan Singh should have done… the data on coal auction showed certain outliers that did not fit into the aggregate proceeds, and it was appropriate for the ministry to step in and that is what we did,” he said.
He reiterated that the government has the right to cancel the auction without giving any reasons. “The NDA government got only six months to re-write the entire country’s coal history …In the last 10 months, we have institutionalised structural changes in 84 departments...and have set up a base to ramp up the future,” Goyal said on completion of 10 months of the NDA government on Thursday.
In order to bring in transparency in future, Goyal said that the ministry has launched a ‘coal monitoring portal,’ which will show how the central government will handhold the successful winners and help the states to derive the best from these auctions.