The government may consider auctioning eight coal mines which have reserves of 1,773 million tonnes (MT) and are located in Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.
The development comes at a time when Supreme Court had held that all coal blocks since 1993 have been allocated illegally and arbitrarily, bringing uncertainty to the fate of 218 block allocations.
Coal India's mine planning and consultancy firm Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI) had recently "recommended to the Coal Ministry that eight coal blocks may be considered for auction," a source close to the development said.
The blocks are Kunur mine in West Bengal, Morga South A, Morga South B, Meguli mines and Phutamera in Chhattisgarh, Dahegaon Dhapewada and Kalambi Kalmeshwar blocks in Maharashtra, Karanpura Mahuamilan mine in Jharkhand, the source added.
The government had earlier asked CMPDI to submit the list of coal blocks which could be either auctioned or given through other routes and had also set up a nine-member panel, to identify more blocks for sale through competitive bidding, the source said.
Of the eight coal mines, just two blocks are explored, five are under exploration and one is unexplored, the source added.
Government had on Monday told the Supreme Court that it "wants re-auction of all 218 coal blocks" declared as illegal allocation but sought its indulgence to "exempt" 40 of them which are functional and ready for the end use power plants.
Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal had yesterday said that the government was awaiting the final decision of the Supreme Court on the coal block allocations and was prepared for any eventuality as it has its plans ready irrespective of any verdict.
The coal ministry had earlier said that it has cancelled the auction of three coal mines as issues related to certain clearances need to be "revisited".
The erstwhile UPA government had in February issued notice inviting applications, offering three coal blocks for mining to companies engaged in production of steel, cement and sponge iron.