New Delhi: With 58 blocks facing the threat of cancellation of licenses because of non-production, the Coal Ministry has swung into action to ensure mining from at least 17 blocks including eight in this financial year.

These blocks are in addition to the 58 scheduled to be reviewed tomorrow by an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) in the wake of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) expressing displeasure over inaction in cancelling blocks which failed production.

"Coal Ministry has stepped up monitoring the progress of blocks allocated to public and private companies for captive use and is hopeful that at least eight blocks will begin production this fiscal," said a top Coal Ministry official.

Apart from the eight mines, there are nine more, which the Ministry after reviewing their progress feels would begin production by the next fiscal, the official said.

These blocks are in addition to the 58 to be reviewed by the IMG, headed by Additional Secretary, Coal, Zohra Chatterji, he added.

The government has already issued de-allocation notices to 33 government firms and 25 private companies which failed to develop the same as per the given time-frame. The government in April had begun process of slapping notices on companies that failed to develop the blocks within the stipulated time.

The notices were issued to firms like Reliance Power's Sasan, Tata Power, Hindalco and Grasim Industries, ArcelorMittal, GVK Power, MMTC and others.

The government auditor CAG in its recent report tabled in Parliament has stated that undue benefits to the tune of Rs 1.86 lakh crore were extended to private firms on account of allocation of 57 mines to them.

Of the total 195 coal blocks allocated to both public and private firms in over a decade, only 30 mines have begun production as per the government data.

The government, last year had cancelled the allocation of 14 coal mines and one lignite to companies including NTPC and DVC for failure to develop the blocks.

Meanwhile, separately, the CBI is investigating criminality in 12 firms which were given licences under the 'fast track' category but had not yet commenced mining of the
allocated coal blocks.


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