NEW DELHI: For the first time government will auction coal blocks by June-end and seven explored mines will be up for grabs for companies other than power firms.
"The first round of auction of coal blocks will happen by the end of June and the mines would be allocated to non-power sector," Coal Secretary S K Srivastava said.
Recently, a parliamentary panel had criticised the government for undue delays in allotment of coal mines through auction route amid dry-fuel crunch faced by the country.
"We are constrained by the fact that we don't have too many explored blocks on offer and the power sector needs large blocks. It cannot do with small blocks. So what we have done is that we may be coming with the auction of six-seven blocks," he added.
He further said that the Coal Ministry has also approached the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) seeking a feedback from it on the seven blocks.
"We started debating so as to whether we can have some sort of environmental comfort and therefore we took up these seven blocks with the Ministry of Environment ... we are awaiting a feedback from them ... what we have said that as long as you can give us assurance that these blocks don't fall in inviolate areas that will be sufficient push," he said.
He also said that exploration is the biggest constraint with regard to the auction of the mines.
"We have been having very intensive dialogue with Crisil. We had a paper given to us by CII which has worked on this issue and we will be having a presentation by CII very shortly on it," adding that "but still we have not been able to really tackle the issue as to how we can auction a regionally explored block."