Odisha urges Centre to suspend coal block auction process for three months

Bhubaneswar: Citing lower price of coal in market this year in view of COVID-19 pandemic, Odisha Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallik urged the Centre to suspend coal block auction process for the time being.

In a letter to Union Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, the Odisha Minister requested him to defer the coal block auction process for three months. Mallik requested the Union Minister to direct the officials for the deferment of the auction.

When there is an improvement in COVID-19 pandemic situation and market becomes suitable, the coal block allocation process can kick-start, the letter stated.

Mallik further said as the pandemic has affected minerals trade, the price of coal has come down significantly this year as compared to last year. If the coal block auction is held in this scenario, the government might not be able to get the better price of the natural mineral resource. The lease period of coal blocks is 30 years and a poor response to the auction will affect the State’s coal revenue, the Odisha Minister stated in the letter.

Out of 41 coal blocks identified by the Centre for auction, nine are located in Odisha with a storage of 10,750 million tones of coal.

As per the revised schedule issued by the Centre, the last date for submission of the bid is September 29, 2020 whereas the e-auction will be held from October 19 to November 9, 2020.

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