Ranchi, Oct. 3: The Union coal ministry has issued or is in the process of issuing show-cause notices to at least 10 PSUs and private companies, including ArcelorMittal, for not starting mining activities in allotted coal blocks of Jharkhand.
The companies that have already been issued the notices include Tenughat Vidyut Nigam Limited (TVNL), National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Usha Martin and Corporate Ispat Alloys. The letters were forwarded on September 30 and October 1.
Others under the scanner are Rungta Mines Limited, Kohinoor Steel Limited, Tata Steel Limited, Adhunik Thermal Energy Limited, ArcelorMittal and GVK Power.
Although Calcutta-based CESC Limited and Jindal Steel and Power Limited are also behind schedule, the progress of their projects is better. Hence, they are not on the Centres radar.
The notices, slapped by V.S. Rana, the under-secretary in the Union coal ministry, said the companies have to submit a reply within 30 days.
If a company fails to reply, it will be presumed that it has no explanation to offer and action will be initiated to take away the respective coal blocks.
Moreover, the sum that the companies had to submit as bank guarantee at the time of allocation of coal blocks will be forfeited and the coal ministry will encash it if they fail to start work at all.
TVNL was given the Badam coal block in 2003 to meet the coal requirement of the proposed Phase-III (3X210) expansion power project under the 10th Five-Year Plan.
The allocation letter stated that the expansion programme ought to be completed by October, 2006, and coal production from the captive mine should start from May, 2007.
But the state power utility failed to adhere to any deadline vis-a-vis setting up of power plant and utilising the coal block allocated to it.
In case of NTPC, Usha Martin and Corporate Ispat Alloys, several scheduled milestones are pending.
At review meetings held on July 20 and 21 this year, it was noticed that no serious effort was made by the company to develop the coal block, said a Union ministry official.
ArcelorMittal and GVK Power, which have been jointly allocated the Seregarha coal block in Latehar, have also come in the line of fire. Showcause notices are yet to be sent to them, but minutes of the July meetings suggest that the authorities were dissatisfied with their progress in kicking off the mining project.
State mines secretary N.N. Sinha, who represented Jharkhand at the meetings, said, There are many reasons for coal mining projects getting delayed. The main ones being political instability, forest clearances and problems created by local residents. We will try to expedite things.
Senior representative of CESC Sanjeev Sengupta blamed the state governments dilly-dallying attitude for the mess. Every time, things start moving, the state falls prey to political instability. Government departments too keep proposals pending for long, he added.