BHUBANESWAR: As a majority of companies, including public sectors units (PSUs), have not made any headway to develop coal block allotted to them, the Centre gave a note of caution to cancel the coal blocks.
The Ministry of Coal had allocated 32 coal blocks to 56 private companies and 16 PSUs in 2006. Even after obtaining statutory clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, many companies have not made any progress to develop coal blocks.
The Coal Ministry made a review of the coal blocks allotted in the State to different companies at a high level meeting in New Delhi on January 12.
Industries sources said the coal blocks allotted to PSUs of other States have not come up in the State even after more than five years of allotment. In certain cases, PSUs of three States were allotted a single coal block. Development of coal block will be possible only when three stakeholders meet at a common point and chalk out a joint action plan. This has not been possible for them.
State electricity boards and power generation companies of many States, including Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya have been allotted coal blocks in the State.
The review by the Coal Ministry revealed that most of the PSUs from other States have not applied for clearance from the Environment of Forest department. Land acquisition for the projects are cumbersome which requires public hearing through gram sabha (village committee). Approval of the gram sabha for acquisition of private land is mandatory.
The Coal Ministry has asked the allottees, who have not made any progress, to explain the reason for the inordinate delay in initiating the process for development of coal blocks. If their explanation is not satisfactory, the Ministry will be forced to de-allocate the coal blocks.
Ironically, the Ministry de-allocated some coal blocks of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) a couple of months ago for similar reasons. Following protest from the Ministry of Power, the Coal Ministry is now reconsidering to re-allot the coal blocks to NTPC.
However, state-owned Orissa Power Generation Corporation (OPGC) has made significant progress for development of the two coal blocks allotted for the expansion of Ib Thermal Power Station projects at Banharpalli in Jharsuguda district.
While the State has total coal reserves of about 66,000 million tonnes, the coal reserve in 32 blocks is estimated at 15,212 million tonnes spread over 325-sq km.