Coal Min to consult Law Min on giving back five blocks

Coal Min to consult Law Min on giving back five blocks New Delhi: The Coal Ministry on Wednesday said it will take a call on giving back five de-allocated coal blocks to PSUs, including NTPC, after consultations with the Law Ministry.

"The Law Ministry is always consulted on issues which have legal implications. The Law Ministry is part of decision making process," Coal Secretary S K Srivastava told reporters when asked whether the Ministry will seek legal opinion on deallocated coal blocks to be given back to companies, including NTPC.

While three had been allocated to NTPC, one each had been given to Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) and Jharkhand government respectively, he said in a coal summit organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Earlier, Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had asked Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal to reconsider the decision on deallocation of four blocks, including three alloted to NTPC.

Asked under what provision the deallocated blocks are proposed to be given back, Srivastava said: "It is not the provision.

"The point was that before these rules (amended rules for auction of coal blocks) were notified, the in-principle decision was taken that these blocks will be given back to NTPC on the basis of certain assurance that they give with regard to exploration."

He said: "It is that provision under which we will give it (blocks) back. This was the decision which was taken by the review committee before the rules were notified."

Power Minister Scindia in a letter dated November 16 had asked Jaiswal to reconsider the decision on deallocation of four coal blocks, including three alloted to NTPC.

"I request your personal and timely intervention in issuing the formal withdrawal of deallocation letter at the earliest so that NTPC and DVC are in position to meet the project related commitments," Scindia said in the letter.

The Coal Ministry had last year deallocated coal mines--Chatti-Bariatu, Kerandari and Chatti-Bariatu (S) in Jharkhand--of NTPC for not developing them within the stipulated time frame.

Last month, Jaiswal had said that it was not possible to give back the deallocated mines to NTPC. "But we have definitely assured it (NTPC) that we will give coal blocks on a priority basis in the new process which we have started," he had said.

The three mines allotted to NTPC have an annual production capacity of 13 million tonnes.

PTI