The coal ministry is considering a proposal to de-allocate a surplus coal block attached to Reliance Power’s 4,000-Mw Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) and is working on modalities to cancel possible diversion of another four million tonnes per annum in the project’s other two mines that are now operational.
A senior government official said the final decision would be taken by power and coal minister Piyush Goyal soon. The move comes eight months after the Supreme Court’s verdict that coal from mines attached to UMPPs cannot be diverted to other projects.
The Supreme Court’s verdict of August 25 barred diversion of coal from blocks attached to any UMPP. The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament recently questioned the allocation of excess coal to the Sasan project.
The committee recommended “utilisation of the surplus coal/coal block from Sasan UMPP for sovereign national interest in consonance with the avowed objectives of passing on the benefit of cheaper coal to consumers.” Based on the Supreme Court’s directions, “we are looking at cancelling the surplus coal diversion —four million tonnes per annum from Moher and Moher Amlohri and the entire Chhatrasal mine that is surplus for the Sasan plant,” the government official said.
Another government official said the coal ministry consulted the power ministry that administers the Sasan plant, and also took the opinion of the law ministry on the Supreme Court order.
The move has implications for RPower’s Rs 21,000-crore Chitrangi project, which was planned to be partly fired by nine million tonnes of coal from Sasan coal that would be available after feeding the UMPP. The company has applied for supplies from Coal India for the 4,000-Mw project being built next to Sasan.