Regulatory hurdles delayed coal mining, say allottees

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Firms present plans to ministerial panel to avoid de-allocation

Private companies such as Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd, Usha Martin, Castron Mining Ltd and Jayaswal Neco Industries Ltd told the inter-ministerial group (IMG) that they were not able to mine coal from captive mines due to regulatory hurdles.

Presenting their case before the panel, Sandeep Jajodia, Chairman and Managing Director of Monnet Ispat and Energy, said it takes more than six to eight years for coal blocks to actually begin production.

Monnet presented its case for retention of the captive block, Utkal B, which is under review.

Monnet expects to start production from the Utkal B2 coal block by March 2013. The company has been allocated at least five captive mines and none of them have started production. The blocks include: Gare-Palma IV/5 in Chhattisgarh in June 2006 (126 million tonnes); Utkal-B2 in Orissa in August 1999 (106 million tonnes); Mandakini in Orissa (96.84 million tonnes); Rajgamar in Chhattisgarh in June 2009 (49.93 million tonnes); Urtan North in Madhya Pradesh in October 2009 (23.27 million tonnes).

“Monnet Ispat is a committed, serious player in the steel space. We are confident that the IMG will take into account our issues and take the right call,” Jajodia told presspersons after the meeting.

On the first day of review, the panel, headed by the Additional Secretary at Coal Ministry, Zohra Chatterji, heard nearly 10 companies. The rest would be given a chance on Friday and Saturday.

Most of the companies told the panel that they had a mining plan in place, but long-pending environmental and forest clearances delayed their projects, which was not in their control.

A few companies also showed the tie-up of funds to invest in captive blocks. Some of them claimed to have started partial production or showed eagerness to start output shortly. But, none was willing to surrender any block, sources told Business Line.

The IMG has given the owners of 35 coal mines a last chance to reveal their exploration plans and inform the Government about the latest date by when they can start output. After taking into consideration the companies’ plans and inputs from the Coal Controller, the panel will recommend de-allocation of blocks to Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal.

(This article was published on September 6, 2012)
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