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The government is looking to line up 34 mineral blocks for auction in the remainder of 2017-18 and up to 70 in 2018-19 as changes in bidding rules are expected to lead to wider participation and a smoothening of the process. "We had rounds of discussions and have brought out the amendments in auction rules which we feel will go a long way in smoothening the process," Mines Secretary Arun Kumar told reporters here. The secretary expressed hope that the changes will translate into fewer failures and quicker disposal of assets. "We have just got four months left in this year. Real benefits of these rules will happen in 2018-19... Around 60-70 blocks will go on auction (in the next fiscal).
And I think they (the states) will garner at least Rs 1,25,000 crore. Going forward, we think of Rs 75,000 crore in these four months," Kumar said. So far, 33 mineral blocks have been bid out, he said, adding that revenue to the states over the lease period from the auctioned mines has been estimated at Rs 1,28,000 crore. "This fiscal, so far 12 mineral blocks have been auctioned, which brought a revenue of Rs 48,000 crore over a lease period of 50 years," he added. Prior to the changed guidelines, the process of auction used to get scrapped if there were less than three bidders and this process was carried out for at least three rounds and flexibility was allowed only in the fourth round. Each round of auction went on for a minimum of three months, which saw many blocks getting annulled time and again. While a minimum of three bidders is still required in the first attempt to auction, under the amended rules now, the states have the flexibility of allocating the block in the second round itself even if there are less than three bidders. "This will make the auction process less cumbersome and will help states auction mineral blocks quickly," the secretary reasoned. "The amended rules have also provided adjustment of the upfront premium to be adjusted against the due payments of miners at the earliest," he said. Earlier, the states used to prescribe end-use conditions on miners that were very rigid. This amounted to inefficient mining. Under the new rules, such miners will be able to dispose of 25 per cent of such dumps that are not used for captive purpose.
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