GoM likely to meet on July 2 to decide fate of 8 coal blocks

GoM likely to meet on July 2 to decide fate of 8 coal blocks

New Delhi: Stalled by environmental hurdles, the fate of eight coal blocks allotted to firms like ADAG, Essar, Adani and the Aditya Birla Group for fuelling their thermal power plants is likely to be decided by a ministerial panel early next month.

A Group of Ministers (GoM) on Coal has asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to outline the current status of these eight blocks at its next meeting, scheduled on 2 July, sources told the agency.

The blocks were allotted to these firms for their thermal power projects located in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, but fall in the “no-go" mining zones demarcated by the MoEF.

“The blocks which will come up for discussion are the Mahan and Chhatrasal blocks in Madhya Pradesh, Parsa East, Kante Basan, Morga-II and Parsa in Chhattisgarh and Ashok Karkata and Chakla in Jharkhand," sources said.

The Mahan coal block was jointly allocated to Essar and Hindalco, the Aditya Birla Group’s flagship company, for their thermal power plant, while the Chhatrasal block was given to Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group firm Reliance Power to feed its 4,000-MW ultra-mega power project at Sasan, in Madhya Pradesh.

The Ministry of Coal had awarded the Parsa East and Kente Basan coal blocks to Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RRVUNL) to feed two thermal power projects in Rajasthan. The Adani Group and RRVUNL had formed a joint venture firm, Parsa Kente Collieries Limited, to develop these mines.

Essar Power was given the Chakla and Ashok Karkata coal blocks to supply coal to its Jharkhand-Tori thermal power plant.

Furthermore, the government allocated the Morga-II coal block to Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation Limited in 2006, while the Parsa Coal Block was given to Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board for its Marwah thermal power plant.

The GoM, set up in February to sort out tussles between ministries on the environmental norms affecting projects, especially in the coal sector, will meet again on July 2. It had met for the third time on 9 June.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had categorised 203 coal blocks as ‘no go´ mining zones in 2009. The output from these 203 blocks can generate around 1.3 lakh MW of power per annum, as per the estimates of the Coal Ministry.

The Coal Ministry has been demanding permission to mine at least 90 per cent of these 203 blocks to meet the ever-widening demand-supply gap for the dry fuel. The shortage of coal is likely to reach 200 MT by 2016-17.