It has been an action-packed season in the coal ministry that has attracted bids worth Rs 4.4 lakh crore towards coal block auctions. The man who has been the face of the coal block auctions, Anil Swarup, Coal Secretary, spoke to Prashant Mukherjee about the auctioning of coal blocks to private companies with the next round consisting of about 16 coal blocks that will commence from the third week of April. Excerpts.
How has been the experience so far from the first phase of auctions?
The first and foremost learning for us has been the potential use of IT applications in bringing about and putting in place a transparent auction process, especially in a sector which is so sensitive. Being fair and objective is another learning which flows from transparency that gives greater confidence to stake holders.
What is next auction on auction front?
The next round of auctions will commence from third week of April.We will have another 16 mines that we will put for auctions.
How much of revenue will the Centre and States get from the auctions annually?
We have attracted bids worth Rs 4.4 lakh crore from 67 blocks so far. But, the Central government is going to get nothing from the coal auctions. The entire amount goes to the States. Odisha will get Rs 45,630 crore in a span of 30 years. The annual proceeds for Odisha will be around Rs 1,037 crore, and, apart from this, they will also get an upfront payment of Rs 230 crore. Per annum, Madhya Pradesh is going to receive Rs 1,018 crore, Maharashtra Rs 108 crore, Jharkhand Rs 1,614 crore, Chattisgarh Rs 1,642 crore and West Bengal Rs 416 crore.
This means that only coal producing states will be benefited?
The non-coal producing states will get benefited by way of reduction in tariff. The consumer will get it. So apart from Rs 3.3 lakh crore e-auction money, about Rs 69,000 crore will go in tariff concessions.
What happens to those blocks that were identified for auctioning but later not taken up?
There are three categories of such mines. The first category are the five mines that are under court cases. In this case, we will wait for the orders and take the course of action accordingly.In the second category are mines in which the requisite number of bids did not come through, they may be considered for auction again. The third set of mines were in terms of environmental clearances that come under ‘no-go’ areas they will not be put for auction. There are two such mines that are under ‘no-go’ areas.
Does that mean that there will no custodian route for those blocks?
Custodian is only appointed if the mine is neither auction nor allotted. So most of the mines in Schedule II that could not be auctioned or their bids could not be accepted, have been allotted to CIL. So far, we don’t see a need of custodian.
How will the new legislation help the sector?
The passing of the new legislation by the parliament allowed us to continue e-auction, otherwise the previous ordinance would have lapsed on April 5.
What about commercial mining and foreign participation?
Our primary aim is to ensure that the end use plants, where lot of investments have been made, are given coal. Once that is fulfilled, we will think of commercial mining. Also, we have a rule that any company bidding in India should be registered in India.