A marathon six-hour meeting of the inter-ministerial group (IMG) to review delays in coal mining remained inconclusive amid strong views that the panel lacked the mandate as well as the ability to carry out such an exercise.
"The IMG noted that there is no mechanism to verify the correctness of data furnished by the allottees," said the minutes of the earlier three IMG meetings held last week.
The minutes, reviewed by HT, categorically stated that even the ministries of steel and the department of industrial policy and promotion do not have agencies to monitor the progress of end-use plants.
"As such, the self-certification by allottees and progress furnished by coal controller is to form the basis of review and recommendations by the IMG," it noted.
The IMG - a bureaucrats' panel headed by coal ministry's additional secretary Zohra Chatterjee - had completed reviewing to ascertain the cause of delays in production from 29 captive mines that were handed to private firms several years ago.
The observations by IMG about its own shortcomings point to the state of affairs in evaluation of the progress of private coal blocks and its subsequent de-allocation. The panel may again deliberate on Thursday before finalising its recommendations.
The finance ministry has picked several holes in a proposed plan involving de-allocation of coal blocks following a raging controversy on their awards to power and steel companies.
"Any decision (by the IMG) will have both legal and financial implications. The international arbitration cannot be ruled out," the department of economic affairs told the IMG in a note last week.
A source said finance ministry was in favour of a more elaborate review exercise before recommending cancellation.
"The finance ministry has told the coal ministry that it cannot firm up its views in such a rushed manner," the source said.