OHPC loses Baitarani West Coal Block

Bhubaneswar: After de-allocation of Utkal-D and Mandakini-B coal blocks to Odisha Mining Corporation, the axe has now fallen on Baitarani West coal block. Baitarani West coal block was allotted in July, 2007 to Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd (GPCL), Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and Odisha Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC). GPCL was to set up a 2000 MW power plant at Pipavav in Amreli district of Gujarat. While OHPC proposed to set up 3X800MW power plant at Kamakhyanagar area in Dhenkanal district, KSEB proposed power plants in the state of Kerala.

In order to expedite the development of the coal block, various review meetings were held from time to time by the Coal Ministry with the representatives of the three state PSUs. On May 2, 2012, the Ministry of Coal sent a show cause notice to GPCL, KSEB and OHPC saying, “In the review meeting held on January 12, 2012, it was noticed that no serious efforts have been made by the company to develop the coal block even after repeated assurances given by the company during the period. It is also noticed that all the important/critical milestones such as forest clearance, environment management plan, mining lease and land acquisition are pending for Baitarani West coal block. The company has repeatedly failed to keep its promises made to the Ministry and is thus non-serious about timely development of the block”.

The Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) considered the terms and conditions of the allocation, the show cause notice issued, the reply and the presentation made by the company along with the latest status paper placed before the IMG. As per the IMG, no progress has been made on any of the three end-user projects to be set up in Odisha, Gujarat and Kerala. The IMG noted that neither environment clearance (EC) nor forest clearance (FC) has yet been obtained nor has any land been taken in possession even though three years have lapsed since the mining plan was approved in 2009. Even application of FC has not been made.

In view of the “unsatisfactory progress” in development of the coal mine and end-use plants and taking into account all factors, the IMG has recommended that the coal block may be de-allocated and the Ministry of Coal has accepted the recommendations of the IMG. 50% of the bank guarantee related to the development of the Baitarani West coal block, which amounts to Rs 37.50 crore, has also been forfeited.