Govt looking at putting in place clearances for 112 mines before auction

Government is looking at the possibility of putting in place all clearances for 112 mines before they are auctioned in the second phase, so that they fetch higher revenue for the exchequer, a top official said today. 

"We are toying with the idea whether we can first get clearances of the coal blocks (around 112 mines) and then hand them over," Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said at an interactive session organised by industry body Assocham. 

The cleared blocks will fetch the government more money, he added.

The government had earlier cancelled the auction of three coal blocks stating that issues related to certain clearances need to be "revisited". 

In the first phase, the Coal Ministry will auction or allot 92 of the 204 blocks that were cancelled by the Supreme Court in September. The sale process for these mines will start on February 11. 

The Secretary further said that work on the 112 mines will immediately start after the government allots or allocates the 92 mines. 

"We will immediately work on the rest of the mines (112) after these mines (92 mines in the first lot). In fact, we will start working on it from 22nd of December," he said. 

The government, he said, is looking at coal production of 1.6 billion tonnes over the next five years. Coal India, which accounts for over 80 per cent of the domestic coal production, is expected to produce one billion tonnes by 2019, the remaining 600 million tonnes will be produced by the the private sector. 

Out of the 92 coal blocks to be alloted and auctioned in the first lot, 57 mines would be given to the power sector, while the remaining mines would be for the sectors like steel and cement. 

The apex court had in September termed the allocation of 204 mines since 1993 as "arbitrary and illegal". 

The government had already made it clear that the number of mines a company can bid will be capped to avoid monopoly.

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