New Delhi: The government has short-listed 44 power project developers from among 745 applicants for 15 coal blocks that are up for grabs.
A total of 38 coal blocks are to be awarded to the private sector. Of these, 15 blocks were exclusively reserved for the power sector with the remaining blocks to be given to non-power sectors such as cement, iron and steel.
The shortlist includes RPG Group’s CESC Ltd, Torrent Power Ltd, Essar Power Ltd, AES (India) Pvt. Ltd, Reliance Energy Ltd’s Rosa Power Supply Co. Ltd, Adani Power Ltd, Tata Power Ltd, GMR Energy Ltd and Lanco Infratech Ltd, said a senior government official closely associated with the selecton process, who did not wish to be identified.
The selections were made by the Central Electricity Authority and are being forwarded to the coal ministry. The government is keen to fast-track the allotments and has scheduled a meeting of the screening committee on 27 July.
The blocks reserved for power have estimated reserves of around 3.6 billion tonnes capable of generating 18,000MW of power that would significantly help the country in achieving the power generation capacity addition target of 78,000MW by 2012.
India currently has the capacity to generate 128,000MW of power.
The screening committee is headed by coal secretary H.C. Gupta and has representation from the ministries of power, steel, environment and forests, as well as relevant state governments.
The shortlist includes eight companies bidding for coal blocks to generate captive power while the remaining 36 are for independent power producers.
As some of the coal blocks are bigger in size, they may be allocated to more than one applicant. The projects of the companies that do not get a coal block, will receive a setback.
Says Kuljit Singh, a partner at accounting firm Ernst & Young: “It would be better if the entire selection process is streamlined and made more objective. There is a need to expedite it as well.”
The process was divided into two stages. The first stage was pre-qualification, which employed two parameters—net worth of the company and project capacity. The coal ministry had made it clear that the projects with more than 500MW power generation capacity will be given priority. The second stage involved further shortlisting based on the project status in terms of obtaining land and water allocation.
Selection from the shortlisted companies will be based on the status, whether fully, partially or initiated, of the power equipment orders placed for the project and detailed evaluation of the progress made by the companies in land acquisition and water allocation.
Priority may also be given to projects proposed to be located near the coal blocks to avoid burden on railways for coal transportation.
“A total of 1,500 applications were submitted for these blocks. We intend to take a decision shortly and expedite the process as directed by the Prime Minister’s Office,” said a senior coal ministry official who did not wish to be identified.
Coal accounts for more than 50% of India’s commercial energy consumption and around 78% of domestic coal production is dedicated to power generation.