The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the Centre a go-ahead for coal blocks auction in accordance with the Coal Mines Ordinance 2014.
A bench of Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Rohinton F Nariman set aside the Calcutta High Court’s order of December 23 last, directing the government to mention in its auction notice that a dispute relating to Ardhagram coal mine in West Bengal was pending adjudication.
The court passed its order after recording Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s undertaking that the government, as a matter of policy, has decided not to take over or put up for auction any of the end user plants of the licensee or lease holder whose allocations stood quashed by the court.
The court also noted that the government was willing to earmark the portion of the land occupied by the end user plant falling within the coal block area, and exclude it from the auction process so that their rights of property remained intact.
The order assumed significance since the apex court refrained from commenting on the government’s submission that it was not going to pay compensation to a previous licensee and lease holder, nor auction their end-use plants attached to a coal block.
West Bengal-based Sova Ispat contended before the court that the ordinance promulgated by the government had no provision for compensation for end-use plants attached to the blocks and that it sought to take away the end-use plants without providing any compensation. It had claimed the company which invested Rs 400 crore for the infrastructure, must be duly compensated.
The Centre, on its part, had told the court that those having plants and factories in the cancelled coal blocks would not be provided any compensation in the proposed auction of over 200 blocks on February 14.
The apex court had on September 24, last quashed allocation of 214 out of 218 coal blocks alloted to various companies since 1993, terming it “fatally flawed” and allowed the Centre to take over operation of 42 such blocks which were functional.