The dates for submission of bids for online auction of coal blocks for commercial mining could be further extended due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, sources said on Sunday. The Centre had earlier extended the dates for submission of technical bids.
According to the revised schedule, the last date for submitting a technical bid is 2 pm of September 29, and e- auction would be carried out for qualified bidders between October 19 and November 9. However, the sources said further extension is likely to be sought by investors, keeping in mind the COVID-19 restictions on travel and movement.
"We are not sure whether this extension will be enough for bidders to complete evaluation and feasibility studies, which have to be conducted with rigorous on-ground data and inputs. If needed, fresh extension would be sought," a senior official of a large corporate bidder told PTI.
Bidders require at least 45 days to carry out site visits, technical and geological evaluations, and estimate resettlement costs, among other considerations, the sources said.
Corporates, including, the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries, had urged the government to push back the dates for the e-auction process, leading to the new schedule. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on June 18 launched the auction process for 41 coal blocks for commercial mining, a move that opened India's coal sector to private players, and termed it a major step in the direction of India achieving self-reliance.