Only explored coal blocks to be auctioned: Govt

Only explored coal blocks to be auctioned: Govt New Delhi: The government on Wednesday said only those coal mines which have been explored would be put up for auction.

"After detailed deliberations the government decided that only explored coal blocks would be put for auction," Coal Secretary S K Srivastava said while addressing a coal summit here.

Of the 54 coal mines identified to be allocated through auction route, only 12 have been explored so far, he said. "One mine would be explored this financial year and two in the next fiscal," he added.

Srivastava refused to give a timeframe for conducting auction of these blocks. "It is very difficult at this time to indicate a specific timeline," he said.

"There are issues which have long-term implications and these need more and more consultations. Right now we have advised Crisil to go and further consult two Ministries.

"We told them to go and consult Planning Commission with regard to pricing issue. We have also told them to consult MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests) whether in-principle clearances are possible or not," he said.

Crisil had in October submitted a draft report on methodology for fixing floor and reserve price of coal blocks to be auctioned.

The Coal Ministry has identified 54 new coal blocks for auction to the bidders for captive use in different sectors including 16 for power and 12 for steel.

Earlier, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal had said that auction of coal blocks would not be possible this year because of the long process involved in it.

The CAG had estimated that undue benefits to the tune of Rs 1.86 lakh crore might accrue to private firms on account of allocation of 57 mines to them without auction. However, this loss figure has been questioned by the government.

PTI