State to bid for new coal blocks, seeks return of old ones

Bhubaneswar: Annoyed over deallocation of five coal blocks by the Centre, the Odisha government on Tuesday decided to step up its demand for their re-allocation.

The state government also decided that it would participate in the fresh bid being invited by the Coal Ministry for five new coal blocks in the state, a senior official in the mines department said.

"It has been decided that the state PSUs like OHPC, OTPCL and OMC will apply for four blocks except Baitarani as the mining there is not viable because of very low reserve," the official said.

The ministry has issued notification of bidding for new coal blocks — Chandrabila, Tentuloi, Sarpal-Nuapada, Kudanali-Luburi and Bramhani in the state.

It is estimated that these five new blocks have reserves of around 2940.48 MT out of which Baitarani has around 58 MT reserve, he said.

The Ministry of Coal had earlier de-allocated five coal blocks allocated to three state PSUs — Odisha Mining Corporation, Odisha Hydro-Power Corporation and Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Ltd.

The decision was taken at a meeting presided by Chief Secretary B K Patnaik and attended by secretaries of energy and steel and mines.

"The issues relating to de-allocation of coal blocks and allocation of five new blocks in Talcher coalfield were discussed in the meeting," the official said.

The meeting, sources said, resolved that the state government would ask the Centre for addressal of inequitable allocation of coal blocks to state PSUs.

Objecting to the manner of coal block allocation from the state, the Odisha government had earlier moved the Centre seeking review and cancellation of unjustified allocation of coal blocks to PSUs of other states.

"The state government is of the view that till these issues are resolved and minimum coal requirement of the state is not met, no more coal block in the state should be allotted to any other company," a senior official said, adding there was need for allocation of 7,000 MT of coal reserve to state PSUs for commercial mining to meet demands of power and steel industries in the state.

Earlier, the Coal ministry had de-allocated five blocks in Talcher coalfield — Utkal-D, Mandakini-B, Baitarani-W, Naini and New Patrapada blocks with a total reserve of about 3497 MT.