The Coal Ministry has shortlisted SBI Caps, PwC and Crisil out of six bidders for consultancy services towards preparing the methodology to determine reserve price for coal block auctions.
The three companies have cleared the first round of selection that involved evaluation of technical bids, sources said.
"Of the six firms which applied for the rendering consultancy services, three have been shortlisted. These are SBI Caps, PWC and Crisil," sources told PTI.
After evaluating their financial bids in the next round, one among the three shortlisted entities would be awarded the consultancy work, they added.
The financial bids are expected to be opened on May 9.
Apart from SBI Caps, PwC and Crisil, sources said that Deloitte had also put in a technical bid.
In February, Coal India Ltd subsidiary - Central Mine Planning & Design Institute (CMPDI) - on behalf of the Coal Ministry had invited an expression of interest for providing consultancy services.
CMPDI has been assigned the task of hiring a consultant for the methodology of fixing the reserve price of blocks and finalising the bid document, and assist in bidding process.
A Coal Ministry official had earlier said the Ministry will put 54 blocks on auction in the first tranche, once the methodology is fixed.
"Of the 54 coal blocks to be auctioned, 18 would be for power sector, two for steel sector, 12 for commercial mining and rest for sponge iron and cement sector," he had said.
Last month, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal had said the government is almost ready to auction coal blocks through competitive bidding.
In a draft report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had estimated a Rs 10.6 lakh crore loss to the exchequer on account of allotment of coal blocks during 2004 to 2009 without auction to 100 private and public sector companies.
However, the Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai later said the media reports quoting an audit report of a loss of Rs 10.76 lakh crore by not auctioning coal blocks did "not even constitute our pre-final draft and are exceedingly misleading".
At present, coal blocks are offered to the end-users on the basis of recommendations by an inter-ministerial screening committee.
The Coal Ministry, last year had sought suggestions from stakeholders on draft guidelines on competitive bidding.
The proposal for auctioning coal blocks through competitive bidding was mooted for the first time about three years ago.
The need for competitive bidding route was being felt in the wake of slow progress in mining operations in coal blocks.