NEW DELHI: In a step towards energy sector reform, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday gave his nod for promulgation of the first ordinance of Narendra Modi Government allowing e-auction of coal blocks to private companies. The decision, that was cleared by the Union Cabinet on Monday, comes in the backdrop of the Supreme Court order cancelling allocation of 214 coal blocks to several private and public sector firms since 1993.
Since it was feared that several power projects in the pipeline would be hit hard by the decision, the government sought to allow private companies to bid for captive use and allot mines directly to state and C entral public sector undertakings. “The President has signed the ordinance,” the President’s office confirmed.
Following this ordinance, energy sector requirements, including those of the central and state governments, would be met through the government dispensation route and coal mines would be also be allocated to PSUs such as NTPC or state electricity boards. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said it would boost the revenue earnings of states, particularly those in the Eastern zone.
The biggest beneficiaries would be Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. MP, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh would also benefit from the law.
While briefing the media after on Cabinet meeting on Monday, Jaitley said the e-auction process would be “transparent” and completed in “three to four months” with proceeds going entirely to the state govts, where the mines are located.All companies, except those convicted by courts, will be allowed to participate in the auction.