Faced with a barrage of questions from administrative ministries, some of which even doubt its authority to take action on irregularities in coal allocation to 25 private companies, the inter-ministerial group (IMG) - which will conduct a review meet on Wednesday - faces an uphill task of meeting the PMO's September 15 deadline.
The coal ministry has already brought the concerns of various ministries to the PMO's notice, alerting it to the delay in bringing out the final report.
A day before the IMG - headed by Zohra Chatterjee - reviewed show-cause notices and replies of the private companies between September 6 and 8 last week, the finance ministry questioned the coal ministry on the terms and conditions under which the group "can recommend penalty for breach of any of the conditions for allocation of coal blocks".
The letter, written by joint secretary Prabodh Saxena of the finance ministry to Chatterjee, stated: "Any action against a contract already awarded cannot be decided or even recommended in an IMG, where each member is not privy to all the documentation and background details... It should be best left to the administrative ministry to decide each case on its merit..."
The finance ministry also pointed out to the need for the coal ministry to set the IMG's agenda, and wanted the status report for each coal block to be certified by the coal controller or ministry concerned.
On September 6, the department of industrial policy and promotion told Chatterjee that at least one week's notice should be given to each allottee, and officials from the coal ministry and state government concerned should be part of the IMG deliberations.
The same day, Anna Roy, director (Infrastructure), finance ministry, also wrote to Chatterjee stating that the coal ministry should compile and circulate a note detailing the various issues taken up by the IMG.
The power ministry also stepped in on September 7, stating that it was not possible for IMG members to go through such extensive documentation.
"It would be better if the coal ministry gave at least a page background note on each block..." said joint secretary (Power) ICP Keshari in a letter.