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BW Businessworld

Odisha's Coalblock Re-allocation Depends On Committee

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Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal has said only a high level committee takes decision on re-allocation of certain coal blocks earlier given to the state Public Sector Undertakings (PSUS) and his Ministry alone cannot fulfil Odisha government's demand in this regard.

"We cannot do (re-allocate) that. A high level committee takes decision on deallocation of coal blocks based on their performances and progress. If state PSU's performance is poor, they may have been de-allocated," Jaiswal told reporters at the airport after arriving here on a two-day tour to the state.

Jaiswal also rejected Odisha Steel and Mines Minister R.K. Singh's statement alleging that the Centre de-allocated coal blocks of state PSUs as it was opposed to rapid industrialisation in the state.

"We are not opposed to industrial activities in Odisha. The state PSUs can get more coal blocks if they perform well," Jaiswal said.

Earlier, the Coal ministry had de-allocated five coal blocks in Talcher coalfield -- Utkal-D, Mandakini-B, Baitarani-W, Naini and New Patrapada blocks given to different state

PSUs and private companies. These five coal blocks together have a reserve about 3,497 MT of coal.

The state PSUs which lost coal blocks for non- performance were: Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), Odisha Hydro-Power Corporation (OHPC) and Odisha Thermal Power Corporation Limited (OTPCL).

The Centre de-allocated the five coal blocks after finding no progress even as more than three years had passed since they were allocated coal blocks.

Replying to another question, Jaiswal said the various coal bearing states would be urged to cooperate in development of coal blocks in their respective states.

Earlier, the state government had alleged it was not consulted by the Centre on the manner of coal block allocation.

"We have requested the Ministry to review all coal block allocations and cancellation of unjustified allocation of coal blocks to PSUs of other states," a senior official in the state steel and mines department said.

The state government is of the view that till these issues are resolved and minimum coal requirement of the state is met, no more coal blocks in the state should be allotted to any other company, a senior official said.

He said there was need for allocation of 7,000 MT of coal reserve to state PSUs for commercial mining to meet demands of power and steel industries Orissa.