Govt briefs SC of coal block allocations

The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that out of 47 blocks allocated to private parties from 1993 till 2005, five were located in an area where there was a subsisting mining lease or were subject matter of Coal Bearing Areas Act notification in favour of Coal India Ltd (CIL) subsidiaries.

It further said that in one of these cases (Sarisatolli), mining lease was surrendered by the CIL subsidiary and the private company obtained a mining lease from the state Government in accordance with provisions of Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulations) Act. In the other case (Ardhagram), a sub-lease was granted to the private company.

With regard to the 3 blocks, the Union government said, in an affidavit, these were under Central Coalfields Ltd ownership and the information was being sought on the procedure followed after allocation.

The Centre’s response came to the apex court’s query on September 18. Hearing two PIL filed challenging coal block allocations, the court had asked the government as to how coal blocks belonging to Coal India Ltd (CIL) were allocated to private companies.

“Are those coal blocks identified by CMPDIL (Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited) a part of lease hold area of CIL, then how can further rights be created in private companies,” the bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, had asked.

“CIL is also the owner of certain specified areas of coal blocks which have been acquired by the central government under the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act, 1957, and vested in it in terms of Section 11 (1) of the Act. In respect of coal mined from these blocks, CIL pays an amount in lieu of royalty to the concerned state government in terms of Section 18-A of the CBA Act,” the affidavit said.

The government also explained how with a view “to integrate and streamline the structure of coal industry”, the central public sector decided to convert Coal Mines Authority Ltd into a holding company called CIL that would be responsible for management of the entire coal mining sector owned and controlled by the central government.

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