SC reserves order on cancelling coal block allocations

Centre admits some firms were wrongly allocated coal blocks

SC reserves order on cancelling coal block allocations

The Union government on Thursday admitted to the Supreme Court that companies that had not been recommended by the Ministry of Power were allocated captive coal blocks under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s handling of the coal portfolio in the United Progressive Alliance-I government.

Eleven industrial groups were questionably granted coal blocks according to a list submitted by the government, a day after the Supreme Court raised questions on how such companies could be allocated coal blocks to produce captive thermal power. The list includes Tata Power, Reliance Energy Ltd, Balco SKS Ispat and Power, Prakash Industries, Green Infrastructure, Visa Power, Vandana Vidyut, GVK, Gagan Sponge Iron and Lanco Group Ltd.

Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati also provided a list of eight companies which were recommended by the Ministry of Power but were not selected for coal block allocation.

 These are Rashmi Cement, TRN Energy, Maithon Power, Mahabir Global Co., Rosa Power Co., Bhushan Energy, Lanco Amarkantak and Vedanta. Significantly, the apex court reserved its order on batch of PILs including the ones filed by advocate M L Sharma and NGO Common Cause, which sought cancelling about 200 coal blocks. The hearings on the coal block scandal began in September 2012.

The Union government, seven mining states and an association of mining companies have submitted their arguments. In a related development, the court allowed the CBI to share some parts of its investigation with Home Ministry officials for the limited purpose of obtaining letters rogatory to pursue evidence in foreign countries.

The court said it would take up the parallel case of CBI’s status report on its investigation on February 10. As many as 16 FIRs have have been registered in the coal case so far.

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