India might have set targets for producing 500 GW of green energy by 2030, but its appetite for coal, which is among the direst of fossil fuels, shows no signs of slowing down. The Ministry of Coal claimed on January 30 that its sixth round and second attempt of fifth round of commercial coal block auctions received unprecedented response from bidders. This comes on the back of earlier easing of mining norms.
The latest rounds of auction were launched on November 2, 2022 and the last date of submission for technical bids was January 30, 2023. According to the information released by the ministry, a total of 99 bids for 36 coal mines have been received in the physical form. For sixth round, two or more bids were received for 25 coal mines, single bid for seven mines and 10 bids for four mines in the second attempt of the fifth round. The ministry claimed that this was biggest successes since the new coal mining norms were announced by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 18, 2020
It may be recalled that Coal Ministry had taken a number of reforms in this auction round like permission to relinquish part mine, reduction in upfront amount and bid security, introduction of National Lignite Index, no revision of NCI till operationalization of mine etc. It may be noted that till now the Ministry has successfully conducted five rounds of auctions in most transparent manner and auctioned 64 blocks with 152 Million Ton (MT) PRC. Once these blocks are operational, they will generate more than Rs.20,000 crores to the States as annual revenue, leading to direct and indirect employment of more than two lakh.