Coal Ministry de-allocates Utkal-D coal block

TNI Bureau: On the recommendation of the inter-ministerial group (IMG) at the Centre, The Coal Ministry has decided to deallocate Utkal-D coal block of Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC)  for delaying production from the mines.

The IMG was  formed in July this year after coal scam row to scrutinise the status of allocated coal reserves across the country.

It is to be noted that Talcher based Utkal-D coal block in Odisha was allotted to OMC, a state owned public sector undertaking (PSU), in 19th December 2003. The state-run miner had joined hands with Delhi-based Sainik Mining & Allied Services Ltd (SMASL) for coal mining in the state. Both the companies had formed a joint venture named Kalinga Coal Mining (Private) Ltd for raising coal from Utkal D Block in Talcher of Angul district, with an estimated coal reserve of 138 million.

However, nine years after the formation of the joint venture (JV), not even a single tonne of coal was raised from the block.

The Ministry of Coal had pulled up OMC for violating the Coal Act by conceding controlling stake to a private player for developing a coal block allotted to a state PSU. In the Kalinga Coal Mining Ltd, Sainik had 74 per cent stake.

The Coal Ministry had issued show cause notice to OMC in July 2010, urging the PSU to raise its stake in the JV to at least 51 per cent. In addition to this, the ministry had also advised OMC to suitably modify the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the company.

However, the deallocation of Utkal-D coal block draws new debate in Odisha politics. Both Congress and BJP ctriticised the State government on coal-gate issue. While the ruling BJD accuses the centre saying, it is an attempt to obstruct the industrialization in Odisha.

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