State to seek clarification from centre on coal blocks

Bhubaneswar: Annoyed over the manner of coal block allocation by the Centre, the state government on Saturday decided to seek certain clarifications from the Ministry of Coal before signing on the lease agreements with concerned parties, official sources said.

The decision in this regard was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary B K Patnaik here. "Though five to six companies are already in final grant stage, the state government cannot sign any agreement with them," Patnaik told reporters. As the Centre used to ask clarifications on different matters, the state government this time would like to seek Ministry of Coal`s stand on certain doubts, Patnaik said indicating that the state government was not in a hurry for operation of coal blocks.

The state government had earlier objected the manner in which the Centre allocated 32 coal blocks to 64 companies including 16 PSUs without consulting the coal bearing states. Of the 32 blocks, only three state government public sector undertakings could get allocation. They were: Orissa Mining Corporation, Orissa Power Generation Corporation (OPGC) and Orissa Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC).

While the state government`s other PSUs were denied opportunity, the centre allocated coal blocks to corporations of far away states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and others. Certain PSUs of Andhra Pradesh were given coal block here, an official pointed out. The state government also maintained that it had to suffer a lot because as many as two lakh people need to be displaced for operation of the 32 coal blocks allotted in the state, the official said.