OST Business Bureau
New Delhi, Jan 1:
Concerned over Odisha and a few other states dragging their feet in giving approval for development of allocated coal blocks in view of the ongoing CBI investigation into their allotment, the Coal Ministry has decided to seek approval from the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) to fast-track the development of blocks with respect to which no cases are pending.
Approval of the CCI is being sought so that the ministry can go ahead with captive coal block development and continue to accord statutory approvals in respect of allocated blocks where no cases or FIRs have been filed by the CBI, Coal Ministry sources said.
CCI approval, sources said, would encourage coal-bearing states such as Odisha to expeditiously proceed with the grant of approvals for coal block development.
The sources said Odisha has been reluctant to grant approvals following CBI’s investigations and cases filed in the Supreme Court in this regard. A reference has again been received recently from the Odisha government seeking guidance on granting approvals to captive coal block allottees, they said.
The CBI has registered three preliminary inquiries since May 2012 regarding alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks and has filed 14 FIRs.
Of the 218 coal blocks allocated to public and private firms, holding estimated geological reserves of about 50 billion tonnes, 47 have been de-allocated.
Two mines were re-allocated to eligible companies and de-allocation letters in respect of three coal blocks to NTPC and two blocks allocated to DVC and JSEB were withdrawn, leaving a net total of 178 allotted coal blocks.