NEW DELHI: International Coal Ventures Ltd (ICVL), a consortium of state-run firms with the mandate of acquiring coal assets abroad, may come under the jurisdiction of steel ministry after NTPC expressed its desire to opt out of the venture.
“There is a question mark on the shape of ICVL. That is on what will be the partnership and how they will continue. NTPC has opted out. We need to see whether we go together in the form of several PSUs forming a JV or whether the steel ministry needs to go it alone,” Zohra Chatterjee, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Coal, told reporters here.
ICVL is currently not under any ministry’s fold since it is a joint venture between companies under different ministries. SAIL, RINL and NMDC are under the jurisdiction of the Steel ministry, CIL is under the Coal ministry while NTPC is under Power ministry.
At the initiative of steel ministry, ICVL was set up in 2009 as a joint venture with SAIL, CIL, RINL, NMDC and NTPC as promoter companies for securing coal assets abroad. It aimed to own 500 million tonnes of coal reserves by fiscal 2019-2020.
The functioning of the venture would have been better if ICVL comes under the jurisdiction of one Board which can take a call on an issue, Chatterjee said.
“ICVL has been going ahead, but then so many people need to agree on things and we are not able to agree on things in the Board of one PSU, let alone on many PSUs,” Chatterjee said. SAIL and CIL each hold 28% stake and RINL, NMDC and NTPC 14% each in ICVL.
Last year, NTPC had opted out of the JV as ICVL’s focus was more on to secure coking coal to meet the requirements of steel makers than on thermal coal for generating power.
Despite enjoying the status of a ‘Navaratna’ firm without having formal Navaratna status, ICVL has failed to make a mark since its inception in 2009. On a couple of occasions, it had to retreat from plans to acquire an overseas asset after discords crept in and consensus took longer than expected.
On March 22, ICVL Chairman C S Verma had said the first acquisition of ICVL was to happen very soon and all necessary formalities had been completed.
“Our board has approved it. We are taking the necessary approvals from the competent authority and going ahead,” he had said, adding that the deal was likely to be worth over Rs 1,500 crore.
ICVL is empowered with the autonomy to acquire assets up to Rs 1,500 crore on its own. Beyond the limit, it has to take approval from higher authorities.
Asked whether CIL would also follow NTPC suit and exit from the venture, Chatterjee said: ” I can’t comment on CIL exiting from the JV.”
Chatterjee today, however, ruled out dismantling of ICVL and said the venture would definitely continue, but at this moment there is scope for raising questions on its partnerships. “There is a question mark on the shape of ICVL. that is on what will be the partnership, how they will continue,” she said.