Amidst the Opposition parties cornering the Government over the missing coal block allocation files, the nodal Coal Ministry has hit back at the Cabinet Secretariat asking it not to pressurise it to sign fuel supply agreements (FSAs) in a hurry.

This is after the Cabinet Secretariat said progress on signing of FSAs “does not appear to be satisfactory.”

In a recent communication to Anil Swarup, Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, Coal Secretary S. K. Srivastava said the signing of an FSA does not only depend on Coal India. The parties concerned have to fulfil certain specific milestones and conditions, which have to be verified by Coal India and the relevant documentation submitted by the party.

Swarup heads a high-level panel set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to fast-track pending projects in the country.

“It may be appreciated that sufficient reasonable time has to be given to Coal India to ensure a thorough verification. It may also, in this connection, be relevant to mention that CBI has started investigating issues not only related to allocation of coal blocks, but also related to the procedures and processes being observed by the Ministry or Coal India subsequent to allocation,” Srivastava told Swarup in a strongly-worded communication recently.

The Secretary also apprised that the Ministry does not want to give any official any opportunity to “deliberately or otherwise bypass procedures under the guise of meeting time deadlines.”

In addition, Srivastava highlighted that the Coal Ministry is “quite over-burdened” with a lot of issues connected with the Supreme Court, CBI investigation, CAG, PAC and Standing Committee reports, among others.

On August 26, the Prime Minister-headed Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI) extended the final date for signing of FSAs between Coal India and power producers to September 6 from August 30.

These comprise more than 130 FSAs for 78,000 MW of power stations commissioned between April 2009 and March 2015.

siddhartha.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 4, 2013)
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