134 companies enter final coal block race

NEW DELHI (TIP): Altogether 134 of the 176 companies that queued up for 21 producing coal mines have been found technically qualified to make their financial bid, coal secretary Anil Swarup said on Thursday.

Adani group, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Balco, Essar Power MP Ltd, GMR Chhattisgarh Energy Ltd, GVK Power, JSW Energy, Reliance Cement Company Ltd, Ambuja Cement, Hindustan Zinc, Sesa Sterlite are some of the major companies whose bids have been found technically sound.

Of the 134 bids that were qualified, 12 are for Gare Palma IV/7 mine in Chhattisgarh, making it the most sought-after block. Balco, Hindalco, JSPL, Jaiprakash Associates Ltd, Monnet Ispat & Energy Ltd, Rungta Mines Ltd, Ultratech Cement are among the 12 interested bidders.

Amelia (North) block and Bicharpur mine, both in Madhya Pradesh, have attracted 10 bidders each.

The government had initially planned to auction 23 mines in the first lot but has put on hold bidding for two mines due to litigations. Swarup said the coal ministry would go ahead with the auction as per schedule, though there have been some changes due to court cases.

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“Consequent to an interim order of Jabalpur (High Court), the auction of two mines has been put on hold in schedule II (producing mines). These are Gotitoria East and Gotitoria West,” Swarup said.

The ministry, he said, had put both the blocks in the unregulated sector (steel, cment, captive power) but the court directed that they be considered for regulated sector (power). “This will require a lot of study … so right now (only) these two mines have been put on hold ….,” he said.

Swarup said in case of Schedule III mines (ready to produce) there are three blocks that have been taken out of auction process consequent to the order of the Delhi High Court.

“We are referring this to a technical committee which will re-examine it in the context and as per the directives of the high court,” Swarup said, adding that in all, five blocks have been impacted by two court orders.

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