Coal ministry to seek CCI nod to fast-track mine development

The coal ministry will seek approval from the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) to

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fast-track development of allocated mining blocks where no cases are pending.

The development follows concerns expressed by the Odisha government on granting approvals for development of coal mines in the wake of the CBI's investigations into alleged irregularities in allocations of blocks.

Approval of the CCI is being sought so that the ministry may go ahead with captive coal block development and continue to accord statutory approvals in respect of allocated blocks where no cases or FIRs have been filed by the CBI, Coal Ministry sources said.

CCI approval, sources said, would encourage coal-bearing states such as Odisha to expeditiously proceed with the grant of approvals for coal block development.

The sources said Odisha has been reluctant to grant approvals following the CBI's investigations and cases filed in the Supreme Court in this regard.

A reference has again been received recently from the Odisha government seeking guidance on granting approvals to captive coal block allottees, they said.

The CBI has registered three preliminary enquiries since May 2012 regarding alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks and has filed 14 FIRs.

Of the 218 coal blocks allocated to public and private firms, holding estimated geological reserves of about 50 billion tonnes, 47 have been deallocated.

Two mines were re-allocated to eligible companies and deallocation letters in respect of three coal blocks to NTPC and two blocks allocated to DVC and JSEB were withdrawn, leaving a net total of 178 allotted coal blocks.

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