The government’s decision to cancel allocation of 11 captive coal blocks to 18 companies may turn Rs 24,000 crore invested into developing these mines into sunk capital.
Further, financial penalties have been levied on another 12 firms in the form of forfeiture or deduction in their bank guarantees, which would imply revenue outgo of hundreds of crores of rupees for them. An inter-ministerial group (IMG) of the coal ministry, constituted to recommend punitive measures against companies idling on their allocated blocks, in its meeting on October 24-25, heard 30 firms on why they failed to develop their mines.
After scrutinising the presentations made by the firms, the panel on November 25 recommended de-allocation of 11 mines and forfeiting fully or partially their bank guarantees. These firms include Naveen Jindal-promoted JSPL, SAIL, Rungta Mines, Birla Corporation and Monnet Ispat and Energy. Monnet Ispat and Energy seems to be taking the biggest hit, followed by JSPL, Birla Corporation and Sunflag Iron and Steel and Dalmia Cement JV.
The minutes of the meeting, in possession with The Indian Express, reveals that contrary to the popular perception, the companies claimed to have invested a total of around Rs 24,401 in developing their respective blocks. To bolster their contention, these 18 companies have furnished certified investment documents to the IMG. The identical problems which came in the way of developing these mines were difficult land acquisition issues and tardy progress in securing green clearances. Companies like JSPL have even complained that besides difficult and remote terrain they also faced problems from naxalites.
The state governments have not been of much help, NTPC told the IMG. It said a key reason why the Pakri Barwadih mine remained undeveloped as the land acquisition issue is pending with the Jharkhand government. The PSU is plagued with similar problem for its Talaipalli mine as the land acquisition issue is pending with the Chhattisgarh government. SAIL, too, is awaiting the mining lease for the Sitanala block.
Among the companies asked to furnish BGs include NTPC for Pakri Barwadih and Talaipalli blocks, GVK Power for Tokisud North Block and Jindal Steel and Power for Utkal B1 mine.
The quantum of the BGs is not known because the coal ministry would intimate them after ascertaining all parameters of the blocks.