A total of 41 coal blocks have been allocated to various private and public companies under the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973 during the last three years, out of which 3 coal blocks have been de-allocated. This information was given by the Minister of Coal, Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.
Shri Thomas said that the development of coal blocks involves a gestation period of 3 to 7 years for reaching the production stage and another two to three years for reaching the optimal production capacity. As per the guidelines, coal production from a captive coal block should commence within 36 months (42 months in case the area falls in forest land) in case of open cast mines and in 48 months (54 months in case the area falls in forest land) in case of underground mine, from the date of allocation. If a coal block is not explored, additional two years are allowed for detailed exploration and three months for preparation of geological report. The companies who have been allocated coal blocks during the last three years are in various stages of obtaining statutory clearances and mining lease, preparing mining plan, acquisition of land, procuring machinery and equipment etc. for both mining as well as end-use project.
He further said that the responsibility of developing the coal block as per the prescribed guidelines and milestones rests entirely with the allocattee company. In the terms and conditions of the allocation letters, it is categorically mentioned that in the event of willful delay in the development of coal blocks and in setting up of the end use project, the Govt. would take appropriate action to de-allocate the said block.
Government periodically monitors and reviews the development of allocated blocks as well as end use plants by the allocattee companies in the review meetings. Wherever delays are noticed, Government issues show cause notices and advisories to such allocattees cautioning them to bring the coal blocks into production as per the guidelines/milestones chart.
The Coal Controller’s office also monitors on regular basis the achievement of different milestones. Based on the recommendations made by the Review Committees from time to time, the Central Government has de-allocated 24 coal blocks till date, the Minister added.