Bill on coal mine auctions tabled in Lok Sabha

By Sarkaritel December 10, 2014 13:21

Bill on coal mine auctions tabled in Lok Sabha

New Delhi, Dec 10  The government Wednesday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to begin allocation of coal blocks that were cancelled by the Supreme Court.

The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2014, will replace an ordinance which outlines the procedure for auction of coal blocks that were cancelled by the Supreme Court in September.

Amid strong objections from opposition members, the bill was introduced by Coal Minister Piyush Goyal, who said it did not seek de-nationalisation of coal mines.

Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy opposed the introduction of the bill, saying it opens the doors for denationalization of coal mines.

“It seeks to nullify the Coal Mines Nationalization Act, 1975,” he said, adding it will give over the country’s energy sector to private hands and will lead to exploitation of coal miners.

“The bill does not see“ to de-nationalise coal mines,” Goyal said in response to the charge made by Roy and Left members.

In his clarification the minister said the Supreme Court has held as arbitrary the allocation of coal blocks through a screening committee.

“It has certain consequences because of which allocation of coal blocks was cancelled. At that point of time the entire country was seized of the problem and there was fear that this will lead to lack in production of coal as well as lakhs of people would become jobless,” he said.

“At that point, it was necessary for the government to take proactive measures,” Goyal said, adding that the ordinance does not seek to denationalize coal mines.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill said it provided for allocation of coal mines and vesting of the right, title and interest in and over the land and mine infrastructure, together with mining leases, to successful bidders and allottees through a transparent bidding process. This will ensure continuity in coal mining operations and production of coal.

The bill prescribes the conditions to rationalise the coal sector for mining operations, consumption and sale, it said.

Coal Secretary Anil Swarup told reporters here last week that the bidding process, in what will be a historic auction of coal blocks, will get underway with release of tender documents Dec 22.

The central government will auction or allot 18 more coal blocks with a combined capacity of about 120 million tonnes, in addition to the 74 already in the first lot to meet the needs of the power sector.

“When we analysed the number of coal blocks to be put up for auction, we discovered that sufficient number of coal blocks were not available for power sector. Hence, we scouted for more blocks which are better in terms of readiness. Those 18 blocks have been added to the list,” Swarup said.

Of the 92 mines to be allotted and auctioned in the first lot, 57 would be given to the power sector, and the remaining would be for industries like steel and cement.

According to him, of the 57 blocks to be allotted and auctioned for the power sector, 23 will be considered for allotment to states and the rest will be put for auction.

By Sarkaritel December 10, 2014 13:21