Rethink by Coal ministry; state asked to halt processing of coal blocks

Reported by Chinmaya Dehury

Bhubaneswar, Jan 17:

coal block

Barely two day after allowing the Odisha government to process all pending mineral concession applications for allocated coal blocks, the Ministry of Coal (MoC) has asked the government not to act upon the earlier direction till further communication.

“I am directed to refer to the Ministry’s letter dated January 14 on the subject of processing of grant of mineral concession for coal blocks allotted prior to insertion of section 11A in the MMDR Act, 1957 and to say that state government is advised not to act upon para 2 (a) and para 4 of the Ministry’s letter till further communication,” said a letter of Vivek Bharadwaj, joint secretary of MoC to Odisha chief secretary J K Mohapatra on Thursday.

It is to be noted that the Ministry had allowed the government to go ahead in initiating process of granting mineral concession to allocated coal blocks, which had been halted in apprehension of their getting embroiled in the ongoing Supreme Court monitored CBI inquiry into allocation of coal blocks.

“The state government may take all steps for executing the mining leases, making it clear in the order that this would be subject to final orders to be passed by the Supreme Court and without prejudice to the investigation or registration of cases by the CBI,” Vivek Bharadwaj had said in a letter on Tuesday.

According to sources, the rethink in the Ministry came after the Supreme Court reserved its verdict on scrapping of the allocation of around 200 coal blocks after a marathon argument spanning over 16 months during which the Centre’s role in awarding the natural resources to private companies came under sharp criticism.

It is to be noted that the chief secretary had sought the opinion of the Ministry whether to continue the process of granting mineral concession to the allocated coal blocks or not, throwing the ball into the Centre’s court as the coal block scam is being investigated by CBI.




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