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Coal ministry issues show cause notice to PSPCL
The coal ministry has issued show cause notice to the Punjab State power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) for its failure to follow the due process of tendering in engaging Eastern Minerals and Trading Agency (EMTA) as the mine development operator for the Pachhwara mine allotted to them in Jharkhand.
A senior PSPCL official informed that the utility has received the coal ministry notice last week regarding reallocating work to EMTA on nomination basis against the competitive bidding process guidelines as per the tender documents for coal block re-allocations.

The official claimed that EMTA has also got work on nomination basis from Karnataka and West Bengal utilities also. However, PSPCL will be submitting suitable reply in this regard to the coal ministry.

It may be mentioned that erstwhile PSEB had formed a joint venture company PANEM with EMTA for coal extraction from its allocated coal mine. After the coal blocks were de-allocated by the Supreme Court, a penalty of Rs. 295/tonne was imposed on the companies. For participating in retendering process Punjab Government on behalf of PSPCL paid a penalty amount of Rs 391.46 crore.

PSPCL was reallocated the Pachhwara coal block this year and mine has not been handed over yet due to abnormal time being taken to complete the paper work. The concerned chief engineers have visited the Ranchi a number of times to finalise the mining lease deed. CMD of PSPCL along with team of officials is going to Ranchi to settle the issue.

EMTA failed to pay its liability being the major share holder with 76% stake. Now Supreme Court has recently issued contempt notice on July 21 to EMTA for its failure to deposit the penalty.

A senior PSPCL official said that in the last week of April there was fire in a part of the coal mine and it was threatening to engulf the complete mine. PSPCL's senior officials visited the site and tried to find a local contractor to douse the fire at the site but their efforts failed.

Moreover there was strong resentment from local residents who were not ready to cooperate as the PANEM failed to fulfill its promises to rehabilitate and grant basic amenities to the local residents.

Officials claimed that in order to save the mine the work was reallocated to EMTA after getting the approval of Punjab Government. It was EMTA only who could settle the issues with the local residents. PSPCL will reply to the show cause notice on these lines.

(VK Gupta is spokesperson of AIPEF)

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