Report by KEC correspondent
Despite the opposition of Singareni Collieries (SCCL) workers and the state government, the coal minister informed the Lok Sabha on 2 February that four coal blocks of Singareni will be auctioned, as already decided.
The minister admitted that the Centre had received requests from the SCCL management and Telangana government for the outright allocation of these coal blocks to the company. “However, the coal ministry has decided that there is no need for such reservation of coal blocks to the SCCL, as it will become a precedent for others,” he said.
The coal minister further informed that all blocks in the future will be auctioned and the direct allotment route shall be closed after one year. This means all further coal blocks will be offered to private companies in the country, if they are interested. This policy is meant to adversely affect Coal India Limited and SCCL, two public sector companies, to benefit capitalists.
The four coal mines of Singareni Collieries – Kalyan Khani block-6, Koyagudem block-3, Sathupalli block-6 and Shravanapalli – have been put up for sale under the fourth tranche of auction of coal blocks. The technical bids are expected by 16th February and the auction will be carried out on 10th March 2022.
The SCCL is a public sector undertaking and a joint venture of the Telangana government and the Centre with an equity of 51 and 49 percent respectively. The coal mines are spread over Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, and Warangal districts. The state government, however, has no say in allotment of coal mines lying in its state.
An attempt was made to auction the four coal blocks of SCCL in December 2021. However, no bid was received for Sattupalli Block-III, Shravanapalli and Kalyan Khani Block-6 and the auction was annulled. One bid was received for Koyagudem block-III, but it was also annulled, as according to the policy, single bids are not accepted in the first attempt. Surprisingly, SCCL did not bid for any of the coal blocks, probably at the instruction of the Central Government. On the contrary, the SCCL management, which does not want the coal blocks available in the state, is trying for the coal mines in Odisha. It has already won the Naini coal block in the state and participated in further auctions.
Unions of SCCL workers, affiliated to AITUC, HMS, INTUC and Telangana Boggu Gani Karmika Sangham (TBGKS) of the ruling party TRS held a three-day strike from December 9, in protest against the privatisation move. This forced the Chief Minister to write to the Prime Minister to stop the privatisation Singareni coal blocks.
Coal is a major source of energy in our country. Bulk of electricity generation plants use coal as fuel. Coal privatisation will make electricity even more expensive.
The fight against the anti-worker and anti-people privatisation of coal and particularly of Singareni Collieries deserves support of all of us.