On the first day of the three-day interaction of the high-level inter ministerial group (IMG) on coal block development, 10 companies on Thursday presented their cases to the panel, justifying their delay in production.
These companies are among the 58 issued show-cause notices by the government, threatening cancellation of allocations. Those making a presentation included Monnet Ispat & Energy, Usha Martin, Jayaswal Neco, Electrosteel Casting and Neelachal Iron & Steel. Most blamed the time taken to get environment clearances and land acquisition for the delay in production.
“Obtaining clearances is a very tedious process. The delay is a combination of various issues, including those on land acquisition, forest clearance, environment clearance and rehabilitation,” Monnet Ispat’s chairman and managing director, Sandeep Jajodia, told journalists after his presentation. “But this is normal and applicable for every coal block and every mining project.”
Jajodia said production from the Utkal B2 block, one of the five held by Monnet in Chhattisgarh, would begin by March 2013. The company has invested Rs 5,000 crore to set up a 1.5-million tonne per annum (mtpa) steel plant at Raigarh.
The IMG, headed by Zohra Chatterji, additional secretary in the coal ministry, has to give its recommendations on cancellation of allocations by September 15. The ministry will then decide on the blocks under the scanner.
The presentation by companies comes amid opposition parties’ demand for scrapping allocation of all the blocks awarded so far by the government. The ministry has allocated 195 blocks with reserves running into 45 billion tonnes since 1993. The Central Bureau of Investigation had on Tuesday filed cases against five companies for allegedly making false claims to get the blocks.
Among the companies expected to present their cases before the IMG tomorrow is Jindal Steel and Power, whose chairman is Naveen Jindal, a ruling party M.P.
The company will justify the delay in production at Jharkhand’s Jitpur block, allocated to it in February 2007.