Congress, BRS vouch for Sravanapalli coal block allocation to SCCL

Congress, BRS vouch for Sravanapalli coal block allocation to SCCL

Hyderabad: The Union Coal and Mines ministry’s decision to auction the Sravanapalli coal block in Telangana via an open auction under the 10th round of commercial coal mines auction in Hyderabad on June 21 has created a political storm, giving enough ammunition to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) against the Congress government.

Union coal and mines minister G Kishan Reddy will formally launch the open auction in Hyderabad on Friday. However, Congress leaders are confident that they would be able to convince the Centre to allocate the coal block to Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL), instead of calling for bids.

Addressing the media in Khammam on Thursday, Deputy chief minister and energy minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka said that he will meet Kishan Reddy to request him not to open auction Sravanapalli coal block.

He said that if possible, the Telangana government is willing to take an all-party delegation to Delhi on the issue, to convince Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help SCCL get the coal block, as it has been in financial doldrums due to the policies of the previous BRS government.

“If the future of SCCL needs to be secured, the company needs to be allocated new coal blocks under its jurisdiction. As Kishan Reddy hails from this region, we have no second thoughts about asking him to protect the interests of SCCL,” he said, adding that the State government would also request the Centre to allocate Sathupalli and Koyagudem coal blocks to SCCL, as even after their open auction, mining works were yet to be taken up in those blocks.

He said that it was ironic to see BRS leaders demanding not to conduct open auction of Sravanapalli block in Mancherial district, as it was the BRS which had supported the NDA in 2015, when the latter had made amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act.

“The then BRS government had, on one hand taken the decision not to let SCCL participate in the auction of Sattupalli and Koyagudem blocks, and on the other, ensured that the company close to them won the bid. It is also surprising to know that the BRS government decided not to participate in the local auction, but to participate in the auction of coal blocks in Odisha in the past,” he said.

Advising the BRS leaders not to spread false propaganda on SCCL, Bhatti said that it was during the BRS government in Telangana that the SCCL was destroyed, and its coal blocks were closed and no new blocks were allocated to the company.

“The Telangana government will do everything in its power to protect the interests of SCCL. I already met the former Union coal minister on this issue. I will speak with Kishan Reddy, and if necessary, will represent this issue to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said the Telangana deputy chief minister.

BRS working president KT Rama Rao (KTR) gave the issue an ‘electoral turn’ by saying that had the BRS won enough number of seats in the Lok Sabha elections, the party would have had a say in preventing such auction of coal blocks to private companies.

Addressing media on Friday, KTR pointed-out that while TDP with 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha, was trying to prevent the privatisation of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, on the contrary, the 16 elected MPs from Telangana, both from Congress and BJP, remained silent despite the Centre’s attempt to harm the state’s prospects through the mines auction.

“The Centre is auctioning more than 60 mines in the country, including Singareni, starting tomorrow. The state government’s participation in the auction contradicts their previous stance of opposing the auction and seeking direct allocation from the Central Government to Singareni, KTR said, reminding that Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy had written a letter to Prime Minister as the TPCC president in the past, urging the Centre to cancel the Singareni mines auction, and requested direct allocation of coal blocks to Singareni.

Referring to past actions of the Centre in allocating mines to Gujarat state undertakings like Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation and allotting lignite mines to public sector undertakings, KTR questioned why Singareni could not receive similar treatment.

KTR demanded that all MPs and the two union ministers from Telangana should immediately work to cancel the Singareni mines auction.

The Sravanapalli coal block is spread across 18.63 square kilometres, with 10.18 square kilometres of it called for auction. It has an estimated 119.9 million tonnes of coal reserves at a depth of about 420.5 metres.