Coal block auctions likely in December: Coal minister

New Delhi, Oct 11 (IANS) Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal Friday expressed the hope that the auction of coal blocks to private firms would begin by December.

"We are hopeful that it (coal block auctions) will begin in December," Jaiswal told mediapersons here on the sidelines of the Clean Coal India summit organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The minister clarified that the process was taking time as the ministry wants to explore the auction of blocks to private firms.

"Everything is ready. We want that coal blocks should be explored, therefore, it is taking time," Jaiswal said.

The Cabinet had last month approved the methodology for auctioning coal blocks, which includes providing for upfront and production-linked payments and benchmarking of coal sale prices. Also, bidders have to agree to a minimum work programme.

The government had earlier allocated 14 coal mines to central and state public sector units, including four to state-run generator NTPC.

The coal ministry also said that it was for state miner Coal India's (CIL) board to decide whether or not to buy back shares from the government.

"It (buy-back) will be decided by Coal India board as we don't have any role in it," Jaiswal said.

Last month, the government had stated it was not considering any proposal of CIL buying back shares from the government.

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