New Delhi, Sept. 13: The government today decided to de-allocate four coal blocks, two of them in Jharkhand, on the recommendation of an inter-ministerial group for failing to meet timelines on production and development of mines.
The decision on the four — Bramhadiha Block in Jharkhand, allocated to M/s Castron Mining Limited in 1996, Chinora and Warora (Southern Part) Blocks in Maharashtra allocated to M/s Fieldmining & Ispat Limited in 2003 and Lalgarh (North) Block in Jharkhand allotted to M/s Domco Smokeless Fuels Pvt Limited in 2005 — came after the inter-ministerial group (IMG) evaluated the performance of each of them according to various parameters.
The government also decided to take over bank guarantees for three coal blocks held by Shri Virangana Steels Limited, now known as Topworth Urja, at Marki, Mangli-II,II and IV blocks in Maharashtra, as the firm had not followed timelines in developing the coal block.
Monnet Ispat, allocated Utkal B2 block in Odisha in 1999, was also asked to pay up bank guarantee of Rs 90 crore equal to three years of royalty.
Only one of the blocks de-allocated, Lalgarh held by Domco, was among those which had been the subject of an adverse report prepared by the CAG on the basis of which the government had sent showcause notices.
The cancellations and take-over of guarantees came after a review of some 29 coal blocks.
Calcutta-based Castron, which had changed its name from Castron Tech in 2003 four years after getting the mining lease, received a belated showcause notice in 2011 for doing nothing with their open cast mining lease which was supposed to feed an iron and steel project. The notice had warned Castron of a cancellation a year ago.
The government is currently going through an exercise which will eventually look at all allocations made since 1993 and not just the ones under the CAG scanner.
More meetings are expected to be held tomorrow and on Monday and later this month, cancelling more coal blocks and taking over bank guarantees in case firms have not adhered to timelines for developing coal blocks or the power or steel plant for which the block was given as a captive mine.
The IMG review of allocations considered broad parameters, including approval of mining plan, grant of environment clearance, status of forest clearance and progress made in land acquisition.
Physical status of End Use Plant (EUP), investment made and expected date of opening of mine and commissioning of EUP were also taken into account.
The IMG, which heard representatives of the coal block allottees under scrutiny last week, had sought to understand whether the reasons they forwarded for not starting work were genuine or just excuses.
In cases of blatant squatting or fudging of initial financial data submitted to get the licences, blocks were simply cancelled.