The screening committee for coal block allocations was not required to go solely by the recommendations of state governments, as far as handing them to firms was concerned.
This information was revealed in the minutes of the 35th meeting of the screening committee. The panel had held three meetings between June 20, 2007, and September 13, 2007, to allocate 16 coal blocks earmarked for power generation.
“…the chairman observed that while the views expressed by the state governments should be given due weightage, they cannot be accepted as the sole basis or a mandatory qualifying prerequisite for allocation of coal blocks,” the minutes of the screening committee’s meeting read. The statement goes against the Centre’s argument that it had allocated coal blocks only on the basis of recommendations from state governments.
The minutes further point out that relying solely on the state government’s recommendation would not be in conformity with the guidelines laid down for allocation of coal blocks.
“There are many other factors that would have to be taken into account before the screening committee makes its recommendations,” the minutes read.
Furthermore, the minutes cite a specific case from West Bengal, where the state government argued that the only block located in their state should be allotted to the West Bengal Mineral Development and Trading Corporation (WBMDTC).
This recommendation from the state government came despite the WBMDTC refraining from submitting an application for the coal block. “…therefore, it would not be possible for the committee to consider WBMDTC for allocation this block,” it stated.