Modi claims on coal auctions turns futile

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tall claims on coal auctions, claiming to be getting abnormal revenues, proved far from trouth and makes the government face red. It may be recalled that the government had made tall claims that Rs 3.35 trillion would flow to states through coal mines e-auctions and allotments. But almost thre and half years later, the government has collected only Rs 56.84 billion for the period of February 2016-July 2018.

Modi government seems to be locked in great embrassment by putting more faith on the controversial theory of former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai—who had accused UPA government of allocating captive blocks to private players without following norms, that had allegedly led to a notional loss of  Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the public exchequer.

According to a report the total proceeds of  Rs56.84 billion for the period of February 2016-July 2018 collected by the government, are from the auction of 31 and allotment of 58 coal blocks. This revenue is in addition to royalties that the states have always collected from coal mining. Moreover, in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that coal auctions have got Rs 2 laklh crore because of his corruption-free policies. But in fact, later it turns out coal auctions have got a mere Rs 5,684 crore, less than 3 per cent of what Modi claimed.

Earlier, taking CAG report seriously, the  Supreme Court had cancelled the allocation of 204 coal blocks made to the public and private sector in August 2014 . It left the industry staring at an impending fuel crisis. Eventually, the NDA government brought the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act 2015 to handle the reallocation of cancelled coal blocks.

Under this law, through auctions carried out since February 2015, the Union government offered 65 mines to companies for captive use. Some of these mines were put on the auction block repeatedly as auctions failed. Of the 31 coal blocks that finally got auctioned, six stand cancelled for failing to deliver against set deadlines.

Through the allocation route, the government has by now allotted 58 coal blocks to public sector companies. It may be recalled that the Parliamentary standing committee in August 2018, had also pointed out that the production from these captive mines had not taken off as promised.

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