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Consultant to study steel’s coal need

Calcutta, Sept. 28: The government will tread with caution while allotting coal blocks to steel investors.

The West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation has engaged consultant Mecon to work out a “formula” to measure the minimum coal needed to start a plant.

This was done after investors apparently made “huge” demands for coal blocks.

The commerce and industries department held a meeting today to assess the minimum requirement of new steel plants and finalise its strategy for coal allotment.

“We want to assess the minimum requirement to start a plant so that work can begin immediately. Instead of looking at meeting the requirements of the whole project, we will try and meet their present requirements only,” a government official said.

Representatives of steel and coal companies attended the meeting, chaired by commerce and industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen.

The government has already petitioned the Centre for 20 coal blocks. Of the four blocks the government has, one at Kulti and another at Icchapur have been earmarked for the Jindal plant in Salboni. The two blocks it later received at Jagannathpur were reserved for Bhushan Steel.

However, it has now decided that instead of handing over coal blocks to investors, the government will retain control over them through the West Bengal Mineral Development Corporation. “The blocks will be the corporation’s property. It will tie up with companies for mining and exploration,” the official said.

Agreements have been signed with the Jindals and Bhushan. The pacts with Videocon and Jai Balaji are to be signed on October 4. Talks are on with Abhijeet Group, which wants to build a power plant for commercial purposes.

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