BHUBANESWAR: Even as the show cause notice by the Ministry of Coal to the prior allottees of coal blocks for invoking bank guarantee has been challenged in the court, the Ministry has sought the views of coal bearing States including Odisha on the contentious issue.
The Coal Ministry has written to Odisha Government asking for its comments on the delay in development of coal blocks allocated to companies in the State to arrive at the amount for deduction/forfeiture of bank guarantee (BG) slippages against each milestone.
“If the (State Government) reply is not received by April 23, it would be presumed that it has no comments to offer and action would be taken on the basis of the reply submitted by the prior allottee,” Director in the Coal Ministry Anurag Kapil said in his letter to the Chief Secretary.
Even after deallocation of 214 coal blocks on the direction of the Supreme Court, the inter-ministerial group (IMG) headed by Additional Secretary, Coal has served show cause notice on the prior allottees to explain why their bank guarantee will not be invoked for their failure to achieve the milestones for development of coal blocks allocated to them.
The Coal Ministry had allocated 32 coal blocks in Odisha. Of these, seven coal blocks were deallocated by the Ministry as per the recommendation of the IMG in 2013.
The remaining 25 blocks were cancelled after the apex court ruling. Out of 32 blocks, only Talabira-I coal block allotted to Aditya Birla Group-owned Hindalco Industries had commenced production.
While some of the prior allottees have challenged the show cause notice of the Ministry of Coal in Delhi High Court and next date of hearing is on April 30, the IMG will take a considered view on the matter based on the reports of the coal bearing States and other Government agencies involved in the grant of statutory clearances for coal block development.
The IMG observed that subsequent annulment of coal blocks cannot exempt the allottees of cancelled coal blocks from invocation or deduction of bank guarantees because even if subsequently de-allocated, it was a fact that coal blocks were allocated to them.
Subsequent development or consequence cannot override the condition precedent or bounded stipulations of allocation of coal blocks, the IMG meeting had decided.