Telangana: Furore in political circles over coal block auction

Union Minister for Coal and Mines G Kishan Reddy is set to launch the 10th round of commercial coal mines auction in Hyderabad on June 21.
Image used for representational purposes.
Image used for representational purposes.File Photo | EPS

HYDERABAD : The Union government’s decision to auction the Sravanapalli coal block in Telangana has sparked a war of words between the ruling Congress and the Opposition BRS.

Union Minister for Coal and Mines G Kishan Reddy is set to launch the 10th round of commercial coal mines auction, including the Sravanapalli coal block located in the Godavari valley coalfield of Mancherial district, in Hyderabad on June 21.

The BRS points to the state government’s “inefficiency” in stopping the Centre from going ahead with the coal mines auction in the state with its working President KT Rama Rao alleging that the BJP and Congress were conspiring to privatise the Singareni company. The Congress, on the other hand, blames the BRS, alleging that it was the pink party that supported the decision to auction the coal blocks when it was in power.

For the record, the Centre introduced the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill in 2005 to start the coal blocks auction regime in the country. During a debate on the Bill in Lok Sabha on March 4, 2015, the then BRS MP Godem Nagesh said that his party supports the bill.

According to the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, the coal ministry selected Penagadapa, Kalyankhani block-6, Sattupalli block -3 and Koyagudem Sravanapalli block for the auction in 2021. There were no bids for these blocks, except Koyagudem block. A private firm secured the Koyagudem block by participating in the auction.

Interestingly, the Singareni company never participated in the auction to secure the blocks in Telangana but it submitted its bid for the Banhkui coal block in Odisha. The then CM K Chandrasekhar Rao reportedly instructed it to not take part in the action of coal blocks in Telangana.

On Thursday, Union minister Kishan Reddy held a review meeting with officials on captive and commercial coal blocks auction in New Delhi.

During the meeting, the minister stressed the need for close coordination with all the stakeholders, including state government and Ministry of environment, forest and climate change, for early resolution of all the issues to ensure speedy clearance and swift operationalisation of the allotted coal blocks.

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