Odisha halts coal block allocations

Bhubaneswar, Nov 4 : Odisha has decided to halt the process of allocating coal blocks in the state given the controversey this has generated in the past, a senior official of the state's steel and mines department said Monday.

The central government allocated about 30 coal blocks in the state 1993-2012 to different companies. Some of them are either facing litigation or are facing probes by different agencies including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The official said only one coal block, namely Talabira-I, granted to Hindalco Industries Ltd is now in operation. The remaining 29 blocks are at different stages of processing for grant or execution.

Some of the coal blocks allocations are now the subject of public suits before the apex court, the official said.

The apex court directed the state government to submit its response on various issues related to such allocations two months ago. Similarly, the CBI also initiated enquiry into some of these past allocations, the official said.

The central government had asked the state to proceed with steps in development of coal blocks as well as execution of mining leases as per law, he said.

But the recent developments in Talabira II coal block indicate that the state government is not fully aware of the developments on the pending investigations into the coal block allocations, he added.

The subsequent actions by the state government while investigations are pending are also liable to come under scrutiny, he said.

Therefore, the state government has decided not to proceed further for grant of mineral concession for coal blocks in the state untill pending litigation are setlled or investigation is closed, he said.

"So far, we have not received any advisory or information concerning investigations into the coal blocks allocated in the state, leaving us unsure of further steps to be taken in pursuance of allocation," the Chief Secretary J.K. Mohapatra said in a letter he has sent to the secretary of the ministry of coal last month.

"Therefore, in view of the pending litigations and investigation by the CBI or other agencies, we consider that proceeding further in respect of such allocations may not be advisable till the settlement of pending litigation or closure of investigation," Mohapatra wrote in the letter a copy of which is in possession of IANS.

--IANS (Posted on 04-11-2013)

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