"As per our plan, as of now, we plan to complete the exercise (of coal blocks allotment through auction) by February 28...We have defined timelines for each set of activities," Coal Secretary Anil Swarup told a private TV news channel.
"I can't give you the exact date of auction because we are debating on a few issues and once we are able to do that we will be probably able to announce the date as well," he said.
Around 74 coal mines are likely to be put up for sale in the first round of auction.
The Supreme Court had in September had quashed allocation of 204 coal blocks alloted to various companies since 1993 terming it as "fatally flawed", and allowed the Centre to take over operation of 42 such blocks which are functional.
Replying to another question, Swarup said the target of doubling the domestic coal production from current 490 million tonnes was "eminently doable" and within a month's time the ministry will come out with a strategy paper for taking it to one billion tonnes annually by 2019.
"We are trying to identify such dimensions which will enable it (Coal India) to double its production and hopefully within a month's time we will come out with a clear-cut strategy paper to see how it could be doubled in the next five years," he said.
He said the problem is not the availability of coal but its evacuation.
When asked whether the government has prepared any blue- print on evacuation of coal he said: "Ya, absolutely...our strategy papers will incorporate more details, let me give you example of three critical railways lines each in Chhattisgharh, Jharkhand and Odisha which when they are fully operational will add evacuation to the tune of around 200 million tonnes."

Latest News from India News Desk