Saturday, September 8, 2012

Coal block allocation: IMG hearing on

NEW DELHI, September 7, 2012

On the second day of the three-day marathon meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) on coal block allocation, a number of companies, including Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Power and Tata Sponge Iron, presented their views before the IMG and maintained that no wrong doing had been committed on their behalf.

In fact, Reliance Power, replying to the show-cause notice, made a presentation to the IMG and maintained that it was among the first ones to commence production ahead of schedule from the Moher and Moher-Amlohri extension blocks in Madhya Pradesh which have been allocated as fuel source for the 4,000-MW Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP).

"We informed the IMG that coal production at Moher and Moher-Amlori extension coal block has already commenced. We have told them coal production has started ahead of schedule,'' Reliance Power CEO J. P. Chalasani told reporters after the meeting.

Mr. Chalsani said Reliance Power's blocks were the fastest which had begun production for any greenfield project in this country till date. "The first unit of Sasan UMPP will be commissioned ahead of schedule. As far as end-use plant is concerned, we have informed the IMG that Sasan is our end-use plant which is going ahead of schedule. The first 660-MW unit, which is to be commissioned in December, is ahead of schedule,'' he added. Moher block has a geological reserve of 402 million tonnes of coal, while Moher-Amlohri Extension has 198 million tonnes.

Tata Sponge Iron Chief Operating Officer Ujjwal Chatterjee said the major reason for the delays was land acquisition, forest diversion and clearances. "There was a moratorium imposed for environment clearances, and there was a court case for land acquisition," he added. Tata Sponge Iron was allocated Radhikapur East coal block in Orissa on February 7, 2006. The block has an extractable reserve of 105.24 million tonnes.

Bhushan Steel, which was allocated New Patrapara coal block for its sponge iron plant in 2006, expects to begin production from the mine by next financial year, its Vice-Chairman Neeraj Singhal said. "We are hopeful that production from our coal block from Patrapara will begin in 2013-14 and, at present, it is in land-acquiring mode," he said. The New Patrapara coal block has an extractable reserve of 316.09 million tonnes.

GVK Power and Infrastructure, which also appeared before the IMG, is expecting to commission its 540-MW Goindwal Sahib power project by the end of next year, while production from the Seregarha coal block will take 3-4 years, company Managing Director Krishna Ram Bhupal said.

The Seregarha coal block was allocated to the company jointly with ArcelorMittal on January 8, 2008. At present, it holds 45 per cent stake in the block with a 66.7 million tonnes geological reserve. Mr. Bhupal also said "IMG is satisfied to know that our end-use plant at Goindwal Sahib is already on track. We have spent almost Rs.2,400 crore, and it will be done by the end of the next year. So, they are very happy."

The IMG will again meet on Saturday to hear the views of rest of the companies. A total of 35 companies out of the 58 served show-cause notices were asked to appear before the IMG. The IMG is likely to submit its report to the Coal Ministry by September 15.
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