The statement comes close on the heels of the Cabinet approving the methodology for auctioning coal blocks. "We are hopeful that the (auction of coal blocks) will begin in December," Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told reporters in Delhi on the sidelines of a coal summit organized by CII.

He also said that it is taking time as the Coal Ministry wants explored blocks to be allocated to the private firms. "Everything is ready. We want that coal blocks should be explored, therefore it is taking time," the Minister said. In September 2013, the Cabinet had approved the methodology for auctioning coal blocks, providing for upfront and production-linked payments and benchmarking of coal sale prices.

Coal blocks will be put for auction after the Environment Ministry reviews them and bidders have to agree to a minimum work programme, an official statement had said. The policy aims at ensuring greater transparency and paving the way for the government to auction explored blocks.

A source had said that six explored blocks will be auctioned first, with estimated reserves of over 2,000 million tonnes. The government had earlier allocated 14 coal mines to central and state public sector units, including four to NTPC, in July.

It had planned to auction 54 coal blocks with total estimated reserves of about 18 billion tonnes.


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