New Delhi: A parliamentary panel has criticised the government for undue delays in allotment of coal mines through auction route amid dry-fuel crunch faced by the country.
"The Committee cannot but deplore these prolonged consultations delaying the allocation through bidding system and strongly recommend the government to complete the process of consultation without any further delay to ensure early allocation of identified coal blocks through competitive bidding process to boost coal production," the panel said.
The Standing Committee on Coal and Steel, chaired by Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Bannerjee, in its report tabled in Parliament last week also objected to "unduly long time" in auction despite Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Act 2010 passed by Parliament for introduction of system of auction by competitive bidding of coal blocks.
It said the delays were despite the Committee in its previous report asking the Coal Ministry to "immediately implement the Act in letter and spirit".
The Committee also said that though CRISIL, which was selected as a consultant to the Coal Ministry for fixing reserve price for auction of mines submitted its report in October, 2012, the Ministry is yet to finalise the process.
"Ministry of Coal is having consultation with state governments and stakeholders to ensure additional safeguards especially with regard to transparency and objectivity to be brought in the linkages granted from the allocated blocks," it said, asking it to complete the process expeditiously.
The government had kick-started the process of allotting coal mines in December, 2012 and invited proposals from PSUs for allotting blocks to them.
The developments had come in the wake of the government's repeated announcements to make policy for mines allotment transparent, following CAG terming potential losses of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the exchequer due to allotment of blocks to 57 private firms without auction.
The panel has already deplored government for controversial coal block allocations between 1993 and 2010 terming it "unauthorised and illegal" and demanding scrapping of mines where output has not started.
The Coal Ministry had in May last year identified 54 mines for allocation. Of these, 16 had been earmarked for government firms, 16 for power sector and 22 for allocation through auction route.
First Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013, 13:01