Commencing a three-day exercise, the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) on coal blocks today heard from 10 allottees the reasons for the delay in developing their mines.
However, neither the IMG head Zohra Chatterji nor other members of the committee were ready to speak about what transpired at the six-hour long meeting here.
The 10 allottees including Monnet Ispat, Electrosteel, Usha Martin, Adhunik Alloys and Power, Neelachal Iron & Steel, Wani Coalfield, Jharkhand Ispat, Jayaswal Neco and Cororate Ispat presented their side of the story for the delay in developing mines before the panel.
A source in the Coal Ministry said," The development made by Jayaswal Neco with regard to Moitra coal block is good and Corporate Ispat's Chitrapur coal block has also progressed well. However, there has been hardly any progress as far as Lalgarh North coal block of Domco Pvt Ltd is concerned."
The panel, which had sent out show-cause notices to at least 25 block allottees for delays in developing mines, has called companies in the order of block allotments.
On the second day of the meet tomorrow, eight coal block allottees including companies like Bhushan Steel, JSPL, Tata Sponge Iron and SPS Sponge among others are likely to appear before the committee for the delay in developing coal blocks.
Meanwhile, talking to reporters after the meeting, coal block allottees listed out the reasons for the delay in developing blocks that include problems in acquiring land, getting forest and environment clearance.
"It's a combination of various things --land acquisition, forest clearance, environment clearance, rehabilitation. This is normal, the same thing is applicable to every coal block and every mining project. It is a very very tedious process," Monnet Ispat's Chairman and Managing Director Sandeep Jajodia said.
Another allottee, who wished not to be identified, said it required around 52 clearances from the government to get a mine operational.
"Getting these clearances is not an easy. Why can't the process be more investment-friendly?" he asked.
The IMG meeting is taking place in the backdrop of demand to cancel 142 allocations which are under the scanner after a CAG report.
In its report tabled recently in Parliament, the CAG stated that undue benefits to the tune of Rs 1.86 lakh crore were extended to private firms on account of allocation of 57 coal blocks to them.