Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Feb 18:
The Odisha government today termed as ‘unfortunate’ the Union Coal Ministry’s decision to cancel the coal blocks allocated to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Tatas for their coal to liquid (CTL) project.
“The decision of the Government of India to cancel the coal blocks is unfortunate,” said Steel and Mines minister Rajanikant Singh.
Acting on the recommendations of an inter-ministerial panel, the Coal ministry on Monday cancelled 10 coal blocks allocated to 18 companies including Adani Power, JSPL, Rungta Mines and a joint venture between Tata and South African Sasol. Eight of these blocks are part of the 61 captive acreages allocated to private companies after 2005.
“The recommendations of the IMG have been considered and accepted by the competent authority. The coal block allocated to your company is de-allocated forthwith. Your company shall not be eligible for allocation of coal blocks in lieu of the de-allocated block,” the ministry said in cancellation letters issued to the companies.
The Ramchandi promotional block, which has estimated reserves of 1,500 million tonne,was allocated to JSPL, promoted by Congress MP Navin Jindal, in 2009 to feed its Rs 77,450 crore CTL project in Odisha, while the North of Arkhapal-Srirampur coal block was allocated to Strategic Energy Technology Systems (SETSPL), a joint venture between a consortium of Tata Group companies and South African energy major Sasol.
JSPL had earlier requested the petroleum ministry to forward the project proposal to the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI). SETSPL had also sought Centre’s intervention to start its Rs 66,000 crore CTL venture with the CCI.
While the government had identified land to set up the projects in Angul and Dhenkanal districts, no memorandum of understandings (MoUs) has been signed with the government yet.
16 coal blocks cancelled
The Coal Ministry, based on the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG), has issued letters of cancellation for 16 blocks. While ten blocks stand immediately de-allocated, orders pertaining to six other coal blocks have been put on hold due to court proceeding, a senior Coal Ministry official said here on Tuesday.
The IMG is understood to have recommended cancellation of 26 coal blocks after it issued show-cause notices to firms asking why their allocations should not be cancelled in view of failure to develop these blocks.