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Coal Secretary Anil Swarup has said the blips during coal auction process were due to “over-enthusiastic” bidders and not because of the government. He, however, formally announced that state governments would soon be allocated mines for commercial mining in a bid to fulfil the requirements of the small-scale sector.
The government is also planning to auction eight more mines after 10 mines are auctioned in the third phase, for which the process has already begun.
To prepare a road map for beginning commercial coal mining, the coal ministry on Wednesday began consultations with stakeholders.
Swarup said, “There were a few blips here and there…those blips were not because of the government. It was on the part of these over-enthusiastic bidders who chose to dig their own graves. I kept telling them (bidders) that I hope everybody is bidding with their eyes wide open. Unfortunately, they aren’t (bidding with their eyes wide open.),” he added.
He said the initial paper for commercial bidding has been discussed on Wednesday and they would now finalise it. “And there will be perhaps more intensive dialogue in terms of the nitty-gritty of doing it. We don’t want to jump into anything without understanding the various dimensions of it,” the secretary said.
“Within a month, we will have more and more mines coming in so that they would suffice for other sectors also ,” he answered to a query regarding lack of coal for some sectors such as steel, etc.
The ministry had earlier this month kick-started the process of auctioning 10 blocks — with reserves of 858.19 million tonnes — in the third tranche. It has invited bids from companies engaged in sectors like steel, cement and captive power generation only.
Keeping in mind plans to ramp up country’s coal production to 1.5 billion tonnes by 2020, the government has a plan for hiring manpower to mine Coal India blocks, said Swarup.
“As far as 1.5 billion tonnes of production is concerned we have a full-fledged HR (human resource) plan of having manpower to mine these mines,” he said.
The government has so far auctioned 40 blocks in two tranches to private companies and garnered over Rs 2 lakh crore, surpassing CAG’s loss estimates of Rs 1.86 lakh crore in allotment of mines earlier without auction.
Of the total estimated geological reserves, these mines have extractable coal of about 356 million tonnes and are located in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The third round of auction would take place between August 11 and 17.
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