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Idco can buy land for coal mines, says Govt

Sadananda Mohapatra/Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar 19 Nov 12 | 12:15 AM

The second category included steel, cement and other specified end users including captive power producers who will get coal at prices to be notified separately

Clearing the air over the role of Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) to acquire land for mining projects when its primary responsibility is to buy land for industries, the state government has said, there is nothing wrong in land buying for coal mining as mineral excavation is also an industrial activity.

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"Earlier there were apprehensions about whether Idco has the mandate to go ahead with land acquisition process for coal mines since mining was not considered as an industry. But in a recently concluded meeting chaired by the Chief Secretary, we discussed that coal mining is considered as an industry as per definition of industry, and hence Idco can buy land for coal projects" said a government source.

The state government has become extra cautious in taking decision for coal projects ever since the name of the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was linked in the coal scam, for allegedly showing favour to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL). In October, it has demanded before the Central government to allocate coal blocks only for state government-controlled companies such as Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).

In its demand, the state has also prioritized the end users to whom coal will be supplied from the blocks allocated to the state PSUs. The first category included coal-based power plants of the state and Central government companies as well as independent power producers (IPPs) having long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Grid Corporation of Odisha, its power trading arm.

The second category included steel, cement and other specified end users including captive power producers who will get coal at prices to be notified separately.

The recent clarification will enable Idco to go ahead with land acquisition without any legal hurdles, the source said. The Union Ministry of Coal has allocated 32 coal blocks to 56 companies, both PSUs and private firms in Odisha These coal blocks have a total reserve of 15,212 million tonnes.

All the 32 coal blocks are spread over an area of 325 sq km and the implementation of these projects would involve displacement of around two lakh people. However, of the 32 coal blocks, only one block (Talabira-I) coal block has gone into production.

Currently Idco is engaged in buying 6,538 acre land for Mahaguj Colliery Ltd in Angul district.

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