Coal Secretary Anil Swarup told reporters here on Thursday that the coal ministry was working at "breakneck speed" to prepare for an auction that will not only be the first of its kind in the country, but has also been very "tough" in the making because of the "history" behind its happening.
"The preparation has been difficult not only for its history (de-allocations) but also because we have wrestled with the complicated problem of how to keep a lid on tariffs in a bidding process," Swarup said while referring to the possible fallout on power tariffs of the process of bidding for thermal coal.
Without going into details, he said: "This auction will be unique because you will see that the way we are working on it, tariffs will actually come down."
The central government will auction or allot 18 more coal blocks with a combined capacity of about 120 million tonnes, in addition to the 74 already in the first lot to meet the needs of the power sector.
"When we analysed the number of coal blocks to be put up for auction, we discovered that sufficient number of coal blocks were not available for power sector. Hence, we scouted for more blocks which are better in terms of readiness. Those 18 blocks have been added to the list," Swarup said.
Of the 92 mines to be allotted and auctioned in the first lot, 57 would be given to the power sector, and the remaining would be for industries like steel and cement.
According to him, of the 57 blocks to be allotted and auctioned for the power sector, 23 will be considered for allotment to states and the rest will be put for auction.
The Supreme Court in September cancelled the allocation of 204 mines allotted between 1993 and 2010, describing their allotments as arbitrary and illegal.