Odisha urges Centre to postpone coal block auction for 3-month

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Tuesday requested the Centre to postpone e-auction of coal blocks in the state for at least three months in view of the sluggish market situation due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

Odisha Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick, in a letter to Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi, said that mineral trading activities have been badly hit due to the coronavirus outbreak.

He requested to direct the officials for the deferment of the auction.

In the first phase, nine of the total 38 coal blocks listed by the Centre for commercial coal mining are from Odisha.

At least 10,750 million tonnes of coal are reserved in these nine coal blocks, the minister said.

Mallick said that there has been a decline in the market price of coal during the COVID-19 crisis.

“If we go for auction of coal mines at this scenario, we may get a very low price for the coal mines to be auctioned for next 30 years,” he added.

The nine blocks which have been identified for auctioning for commercial mining in Odisha include Chendipada I, Chendipada II, Machhakata, Mahanadi, Radhikapur (East), Radhikapur (West), Brahmanbil and Kardabahal, Kuraloi (A) North and Phuljhari (East and West).

According to the revised schedule, the last date for submission of the bid is September 29 and the e-auction process will have to be completed between October 19 and November 9.