Government on Tuesday said there would be no auction of coal blocks for at least next two to three months as at present there are not many takers of mines.
“I don’t see auction of coal blocks in the near future at least in the next two to three months….We feel that this may be not the right time for going ahead with auctioning of mines because there are not many takers of coal,” Coal Secretary Anil Swarup told reporters here. The secretary further said at present there are no plans for opening up the sector to private parties and the government will consider on the same as the demand for coal picks up.
“People have been asking me what is the next step towards commercial mining. In commercial mining, we come across another problem. We really don’t know whether there would be any takers. Going by the experience, we had in the last round of auction there were hardly any takers so now what problem comes is that the dilemma that we face,” Swarup said. The secretary further said that ground work on the commercial mining for the private sector is already done.
“Everything is ready. The day we want to do it within 15 days we can get cracking. (We have) discussed with industry, there has been across the board consultations (on the same)” the coal secretary said.
Swarup further said that within a week or ten days it will approach cabinet with regard to auction of coal linakges for the power sector. He said the government has asked states to buy coal from Coal India Ltd’s growing stockpiles.
The government has earlier directed nominated authority to conduct the allotment of 16 mines for sale of coal, the secretary said. Out of these 16 coal mines, eight mines are identified for allotment to state government companies of coal bearing host states and the remaining mines are identified for allotment to state government companies of states other than host states, Swarup added.
While the allotment process of eight mines identified for host states was initiated vide notice inviting application on April 21 but due to unavoidable circumstances, the schedule for allotment process was deferred, he said. As per the revised schedule, the last date for submission of application is July 27 and the results shall be published on August 4, 2016. The coal secretary further said that the notice inviting application for allotment of eight mines identified for states other than host states will be issued on June 23, 206. Last date of submission of application is August 8 and the results would be published on August 19.
The allotment of these 16 coal mines is expected to result in incremental annual coal production of over 40 million tonnes. It is expected that incremental coal produced from such coal mines would cater to the unmet demand of the coal in the country especially of medium, small and micro industries and bridge the gap between the demand and supply considerably. “We have so far taken eight plus eight mines. In the next two months we would be able to complete this exercise and as in the past we would be able to do it within the timeframe,” the secretary said.
Swarup further said that NTPC, Coal India and Indian Oil, the three PSUs, have come together and incorporated a joint venture company called ‘Hindustan Avram and Rasayan Ltd, to revive sick fertiliser plants at Sindri, Gorakhpur and Baruni. The commercial operation of these plants is expected to begin by December 2020, he said adding the commercial operation of plants is expected to be of worth around Rs 20,000 crore. “The JVC has started operations on the ground on a fast track mode,” he said adding that GAIL is committed to completed the gas pipeline to Haldia by June, 2020.