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Centre re-examining 9 coal mine bids, House panel nod for bill

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  19 March 2015 12:00 AM GMT

New Delhi, March 18: Even as the central government races against time to secure legislative sanction for the auction of cancelled coal blocks before parliament goes into its scheduled month-long recess on Friday, it is “re-examining” nine winning bids out of the 33 coal blocks auctioned so far. The development comes even as the bill which seeks to replace the ordince under which mines are being e-auctioned, was approved on Tuesday by a Rajya Sabha panel, paving the way for its passing by the upper house. The coal ministry will take a decision this week on whether there are any price discrepancies in case of the nine winning bids, including those made by companies like Jindal Steel and Balco. The fil decision on whether mine winning companies like Hindalco, Jindal Steel and Power, Jaypee Cements and Usha Martin would depend on the re-examition of these bids by the auction nomited authority.

Five of these blocks belong to Schedule III (near operatiol) category, while four are under Schedule II (operatiol), a coal ministry official told IANS on Wednesday. The ministry is considering whether these bids were too low when compared with the winning bids for other similar blocks through an alytical tool called “outlier”, which looks for unusual observations that are far removed from the mass of data, the source added.

“Not making any allegation of cartelisation as of now,” Coal Secretary Anil Swarup tweeted on the matter. The ministry is looking at instances like the Brinda and Sasai blocks, bidding for which opened at Rs.1,802 per tonne and closed at Rs.1,804 per tonne. Similarly, bidding for the Meral mine opened at Rs.725 a tonne and closed at Rs.727 a tonne.

Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha Select Committee on the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill on Tuesday also recommended its approval without any change. (ians)

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