BJP MP demands fresh bidding for Angul coal blocks

Bhubaneswar: BJP MP Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday urged both the Central and State government to cancel two coal blocks in Angul allocated to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Strategic Energy Technology Systems Ltd (SETSL) citing no progress in work by the allottees and denial of benefits to locals. The MP also demanded a fresh allotment of these coal blocks through competitive bidding.
 
Notably, two coal blocks – North of Arkhapal and Ramachandi Promotional Coal – with over 3 billion tonnes reserve were given to JSPL and SETSL in February 2009 for coal-to-liquid (CTL) projects.
 
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the MP said, “However, even four years after the allotment of the blocks, the allottees have not obtained prospecting licence, which is the first step towards exploration and development.” The BJP leader also forwarded a copy of the letter to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
 
As per the guidelines of the Ministry of Coal, coal production should be started after 36 months (in case of forest land 42 months) from the date of allotment of coal blocks.
 
He added as CTL is a new and unproven technology, there are very few technology partners who have the know-how to implement these kind of projects.
 
“I understand that technology collaboration was the primary criterion for allotment of these blocks. However, after four years of allotment, there are news reports that one of the allottees (JSPL) is still looking for a technology partner to implement this project,” the letter said adding that this shows no progress of work at the ground level.
 
With the mention about the Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s criticism over the allotment of these coal blocks without proper bidding process the letter said, “The Mines and Minerals Development & Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2008 suggested competitive bidding for coal blocks and was enacted in 2010. It is tragic that before this bill could be passed by Parliament, these two blocks were allotted to private parties.”
 
The BJP MP said the proposed CTL project will require a large quantity of water while releasing significant CO2 thereby causing problems for the locals.
 
This project will not be viable for the state in terms of revenue earnings as the proposed project’s liquid fuel will be transported to other regions, the letter added.
 
The letter also asked both the leaders to look into the matter so that the end use of blocks will be conventional sector such as power, steel and cement instead of CTL.