| NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI Feb 26 India has invited bids for
three coal blocks containing reserves of about 499.4 million
tonnes, the Coal Ministry said, in its first auction of mining
rights following investigations into its earlier practice of
The allocation controversy, dubbed "Coalgate", came up in
2012 after an auditor questioned the government's exercise of
awarding mining concessions without competitive bidding. India's
top investigation agency has already launched probes against
industrialists and companies.
"The government has initiated an auction of coal blocks by
inviting applications for the first time for allocating coal
blocks through competitive bidding for specified end-uses," the
Coal Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
Two of the coal blocks are located in the eastern state of
Jharkhand and one in neighbouring West Bengal. The type of coal
from the blocks would be used in the steel, cement and sponge
iron industries, the statement said.
The ministry said in September that bidders would have to
agree to milestones for obtaining environment and forest
clearance permits and for developing the blocks.
Many companies that received coal blocks over the past
decade had to give them up recently as the government found them
slow to develop the blocks.
Difficulties in obtaining environmental approval and
securing land for mining have made India the third-largest
importer of coal, even though it sits on what BP ranks as
the fifth-largest reserve. State-run Coal India is the
dominant producer but frequently fails to meet targets.
(editing by Jane Baird)