Ambarish Mukherjee

New Delhi, March 22

The proposal for setting up a joint venture company by Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL) and Tata Steel for developing the Kapuria underground coal block stands cancelled.

The Ministry of Coal has now asked the BCCL board to evolve suitable norms and guidelines for selection of partners and send their proposals for approval.

The decision to form a joint venture with the Tatas was taken following the Ministry's in-principle decision to involve the private sector in coal mining.

The BCCL-Tata joint venture was recommended by the former Coal Secretary, on the day of his retirement. It was decided that the management of the new joint venture company would be with the Tatas and mining would also be done by them.

Later, Steel Authority of India Ltd and the Jindal group evinced interest and approached the Coal Ministry, informed sources said.

"Since more than one party was interested, the Ministry decided that suitable norms be evolved by the BCCL board for the selection of the joint venture partner and the Ministry would take a final view on the matter after that," the sources said.

"The move is to ensure transparent decision making. We have nothing against the Tatas. We know that they are credible and good organisation. But, as a Ministry we should not appear to be biased. So, we are going in for fresh appraisal," sources said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 23, 2006)
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