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Two more coal blocks axed, survey continues

The inter-ministerial group on Saturday recommended the cancellation of two coal blocks allocated to Bhushan Steel and SKS Ispat and Power, Vivek Sinha reports.

delhi Updated: Sep 16, 2012 01:56 IST
Vivek Sinha

The inter-ministerial group (IMG) on Saturday recommended the cancellation of two coal blocks allocated to Bhushan Steel and SKS Ispat and Power.

With this, the IMG — which has reviewed around 18 coal blocks for mining progress — has recommended de-allocation of as many as seven coal blocks. The panel would meet again on September 17 to carry on with its review process.

The recommendation for cancellation of a coal block of SKS Ispat and Power is interesting as tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahay's brother had, in the past, held a position of honorary director in SKS Ispat.

“It is quite likely that IMG will finish its review process for private firms over the next couple of meetings,” said a senior government official, who is also an IMG member. Zohra Chatterjee, the additional secretary for coal who also heads the IMG, is expected to leave for the United States on an official visit on September 21, he added.

“She is quite keen to finish off the review process of coal blocks allocated to private firms before leaving India,” the official said.

The two coal blocks that were recommended for de-allocation on Saturday include Rawanwara North, which was allocated to SKS Ispat and Power in 2007, and New Patrapara, allocated to Bhushan Steel in 2006.

On Friday, the IMG had recommended cancellation of the Gourangdih ABC block, which was allocated to the JSW Group and Himachal EMTA Power Ltd.

In its review, the IMG also recommended deduction of bank guarantees in four coal blocks. These blocks include Nerad Malegaon Block, allotted to Gupta Metaliks & Power and Gupta Coalfields, the Lohari coal block allotted to Usha Martin, the Radhikapur East coal block allotted to Tata Sponge Iron, and the Bijahan coal block allotted to Bhushan Ltd.

Of the 58 coal blocks that were given show-cause notices for delays in developing mines, the IMG is currently scrutinising 29 blocks awarded to private firms.

Some of the blocks recommended for de-allocation find mention in the CAG report, which had recently estimated that undue benefits to the tune of Rs. 1.86 lakh crore were accrued to private firms due to non-auctioning of 57 mines.