Top officials in Delhi Government said it could not go ahead with exploration of the Mara II Mahan block in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh as Environment Ministry had declared the area as 'no go' zone due to dense forest cover and the restriction was lifted only in January this year.
"We could not carry out coal exploration in the mine as the Environment Ministry had lifted the 'no go' zone restriction only in January last," top officials said when asked why the block remained unexplored for last six years. The coal block was allocated jointly to Delhi Government and Haryana Power Generation Company Ltd to generate electricity from their coal-fuelled power plants.
"We did not go ahead with the mining due to the restrictions put by the Environment Ministry. We did not want to invite trouble," said the officials. They said following clearance from the Environment Ministry, the city government had asked for clearances from the Madhya Pradesh government which is yet to be issued.
"After obtaining clearance from the Environment Ministry, we approached Madhya Pradesh Government for issuance of prospecting license but till date the clearance has not been issued to us," they said.
The officials said Delhi Government has not received any communication from the Union Coal Ministry in the wake of the uproar over irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks following the CAG report which estimated undue benefits to the tune of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to private firms on account of allocation of blocks to them without auction.
"We have not received any communication even from the Inter Ministerial Group looking into the issue," said the officials. The block was primarily allocated to Delhi and Haryana for supply of coal to the Jhajhar power plant in Haryana. Both Haryana and Delhi have an equity contribution of 25 per cent each in the 1,500 MW capacity plant while NTPC has an equity share of 50 per cent.
The plant, which was commissioned in 2010, had to stop power generation a number of times due to non-availability of coal.