New Delhi: Amid media reports that undue benefits of Rs 10.67 lakh crore were extended to private and public sector companies in allocation of coal blocks, the government on Thursday said it followed a transparent process in giving mining rights to the firms.
"We gave advertisements for allocation of coal blocks and invited applications...after the applications were received by us (Coal Ministry), the state governments were consulted and thereafter the coal blocks were allocated," Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told a news agency.
"The coal blocks are allocated through a screening committee which is chaired by Coal Secretary," he said, when asked to comment on media reports that Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its draft report said that the government lost Rs 10.67 lakh crore by not auctioning coal blocks.
The issue of allocation of coal blocks was raised in Parliament and lead to disruption of proceedings in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
Jaiswal also said he did not receive any such report from CAG. "We did not receive any report of CAG then how can we say whether its report is right or not," he said.
According to a media report, the CAG`s draft report said that the government benefited private and public sector companies by allocating them 155 coal blocks without auction between 2004-2009.
Jaiswal, however, said that the UPA-I started the practice of awarded coal blocks through advertisements, discontinuing the earlier practice.
He said that between 1993 and 2004 scores of coal blocks were awarded without issuing any advertisements.
The proposal for allocation of coal blocks through competitive bidding was mooted for the first time a couple of years ago. The government is framing guidelines and rules for the proposed competitive bidding for auction of coal blocks.
"The guidelines on coal block... are currently being examined. Views are also being sought from the concerned ministries on this and when the guidelines are ready then process of coal blocks auction would begin," Jaiswal said.
He expressed optimism that the guidelines on coal blocks auction would be ready in two to four months.
Minister of State for Coal Shripratik Prakashbapu Patil had earlier said in the Lok Sabha that around 111 coal blocks have been allocated to various public/private sector companies from 1993-2006. Out this 111 coal blocks, 29 have started production.