Jharkhand, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh have two coal blocks each in the fourth round. Photo: Bloomberg
New Delhi: The government on Thursday announced that it is putting up eight coal blocks for auction in January.
“In the fourth round of auctions, eight coal blocks will be auctioned. All these will be for the unregulated, non-power sector,” coal secretary Anil Swarup said.
The sale of tender documents will begin on 31 December, Swarup said. Electronic auctions will begin on 18 January and conclude on 22 January.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to hand over the vesting order to successful bidders by 10 March,” he said.
The non-power sector includes industries like iron and steel, cement and captive power plants. The total capacity of eight mines is 1,143.42 million tonnes. Jharkhand, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh have two blocks each in the fourth round.
Swarup, however, refused to give an estimate of the amount the government expects to raise in the auction.
In the third round of auctions in August, the government earned Rs.4,364 crore.
The Supreme Court in 2014 had cancelled allocation of 204 coal mines to companies.
“Coal production has crossed 300 million tonnes three days ago. This year coal production is growing at around 9%, which is arguably the highest ever growth, over and above record production last year (2014-15). We are well on the way to achieving the target this year of 550 million tones,” Swarup said.
The coal secretary praised the rail ministry for its “phenomenal work” of providing more wagons for coal transportation. “Rake availability has gone up, which was a major problem in the past,” he said.
Faster land acquisition and environment and forest clearances are the main reasons for the increase in coal production, he said.
“41 environmental clearances were given by the environment ministry. They are coming thick and fast. It is not that they are bypassing any procedures. What is happening is that all queries that are being raised and details sought are being made available expeditiously and they are able to take a decision. We have expedited the process… we have sat with them and found solutions. That has made the difference,” he added.