Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Tuesday urged the Centre to postpone e-auction of coal blocks in the state for at least three months in view of the sluggish market situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Odisha Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick wrote a letter to Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi, saying that mineral trading activities have been badly hit due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Nine of the total 38 coal blocks listed by the Centre for coal mining in the first phase are from Odisha.
The coal ministry in early September had revised the list of mines to be auctioned for commercial mining with 38 blocks to go under the hammer instead of 41 mines announced earlier.
At least 10,750 million tons of coal are reserved in these nine coal blocks, the minister said.
According to the revised schedule issued by the Centre, the last date for submission of the bid is September 29 and the e-auction process will have to be completed between October 19 and November 9.
The state government in the letter also pointed out that there has been a decline in the market price of coal during the COVID-19 crisis.
"If we go for auction of coal mines at this juncture, we may get a very low price for the coal mines to be auctioned for next 30 years.
"As the tenure of the lease period will be 30 years, it will have a big impact on the revenue generation of the state towards the coal block auction," the minister said.
Urging the Centre to defer the e-auction of coal blocks till market situation improved in the post-COVID-19 period, the minister said, authorities concerned should be instructed to postpone the process.
The nine blocks which have been identified for auctioning for commercial mining in the coastal state include Chendipada I, Chendipada II, Machhakata, Mahanadi, Radhikapur (East), Radhikapur (West), Brahmanbil and Kardabahal, Kuraloi (A) North and Phuljhari (East and West).