Govt receives 36 applications for 3 coal mines

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The government has so far received 36 applications from companies, including Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Tata Steel, in response to the notice inviting applications for allotment of three coal blocks on tariff-based bidding.

"So far the Coal Ministry has received 36 applications from companies like JSPL and Tata Steel," a source said, adding that the bids are invited by the government till May.

"The entire process, including evaluation of applications and shortlisting the firms among others before the coal blocks are alloted, will take at least four months," the source said.

The government had in February put three mines in Jharkhand and West Bengal for auction for captive use.

The much-delayed auction features mines that have total reserves of 500 million tonnes.

The move followed the Centre drew flak for delaying the auction and the CAG earlier saying that allotment of 57 mines to private firms without auction had resulted in a notional loss of Rs 1.8 lakh crore to the exchequer.

The Ministry of Coal offered three blocks for auction for captive use for steel, cement and sponge iron companies -- two in Jharkhand and one in West Bengal.

Last year, the government had allocated 17 coal mines to central and state public sector units, including four to NTPC. It had planned to auction 54 coal blocks with total estimated reserves of about 18 billion tonnes.

The blocks in Jharkhand include Jhirki & Jhirki (West) of East Bokaro Coalfield having geological reserves of 267.91 MT coking coal for steel (blast furnace) and Tokisud-II of South Karanpura Coalfield with 127.692 MT of reserves for cement plant.

The mine in West Bengal, Andal Babuisol of Raniganj Coalfield, has about 103.841 MT of reserves for sponge iron.

Amid the controversies shrouding coal blocks allotment, the government for the last two years has been saying that the auction would take place shortly.

The Cabinet last year in September had approved the methodology for auctioning coal blocks, providing for upfront and production-linked payments and benchmarking of coal sale prices.

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