A list of successful bidders released by the government on Saturday omitted three mines and several reports said questions had arisen over the bid price, leaving the newly launched system under a cloud ahead of more sales this month.

Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, steel maker BS Ispat and aluminium company Balco had won the bids for the three mines. Shares in Jindal Steel, controlled by billionaire Naveen Jindal, fell as much as 4 percent on Monday.

In the first mine auction set up by the government after that ruling, Jindal Steel offered to pay 108 rupees (USD 2) per tonne, the lowest winning bid among the six blocks meant for the power sector. Bids are based on estimated tonnage in the mines and quality of coal available.
            
Jindal Steel and Balco did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment. BS Ispat could not be reached. The government source, who did not want to be named but is directly involved with the auction procress, declined to identify the companies whose bids were being looked at or
comment on any discrepancies.

Coal Secretary Anil Swarup told a business daily that "there are some prima facie issues". Dipesh Dipu, a partner with Jenissi Management Consultants,said reassessing the bids after the end of the auction process would send the wrong signal to the market.

 "Again there is a question mark over the efficacy of the whole auction process," Dipu said. "Next time people will not take it seriously. It's like going back to square one."

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