Non-serious players to be eliminated from coal blocks

Talcher: The Centre is contemplating eliminating non-serious players who had been allocated coal blocks for expediting coal production in the country, Union Minister of State for Coal Pratik Prakashbapu Patil said today.

The minister, who was speaking to newsmen after visiting some coalmines of Mahanadi Coalfield Limited (MCL), indicated that the coal ministry was not satisfied over the progress made by different companies in beginning production from their allocated blocks. Of the total 208 coal blocks allocated by the ministry, only 27 have come till production stage while progress of others was not satisfctory, he said.

Referring to Orissa, he said of the 32 coal blocks allocated in the state only one – Talabira-I block has reached the production stage, while others were yet to begin their work. The performance of the state owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) which had been allocated Utkal-D block since 2003, was also far from satisfaction.

It had proposed to start coal production in a joint venture with Delhi-based Sainik Mining Allied Service Limited but it had not made any progress, Patil said replying to a question. On the reason behind the low production of coal by MCL, Patil said it was due to rains and a seris of strikes by the local people and the transport companies.

However, steps had been taken by MCL authorities to increase coal production and expedite supply to the power generating units. Patil parried questions on the demand of raising of coal royalty by Orissa. "It is a policy decision to be taken at the higher level," he said.