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Affected coal block owners seek way out

RELIEF ROUTE

New Delhi, Sept. 2: Steel and power companies want the list of 46 coal blocks that may be offered a safe cover from the outright cancellation of leases to be expanded.

The government had sought a reprieve from the Supreme Court for these 46 blocks and had also asked the power and steel companies who own these blocks to come up with status reports on these blocks.

Representatives of these companies now want the list of coal blocks to be expanded to include those that have received stage-two environmental clearance and are merely awaiting a final mining licence. The number of such blocks could run up to another two dozen, estimate analysts.

The companies are likely to request this while responding to a letter from the coal ministry asking them to file status reports which would be submitted before the Supreme court.

A total of 218 mining blocks had been allotted to companies which were the end users of coal.

The Supreme Court, in its August 25 judgment, had declared all the 218 coal blocks allotted since 1993 as illegal. However, the court had reserved orders on what was to be done about them.

The government had yesterday sought a reprieve for 40 coal blocks where mining was on and another six where all approvals to start mining were in place.

The government is afraid that the cancellation of these leases will jeopardise steel output and electricity generation, affecting the economy at large.

Attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi had told the court that the government stood by the court’s decision but had added that blocks where mining had commenced and half a dozen others which were “absolutely in readiness” should be operational as uncertainty in coal availability would affect power plants at a time the country was facing acute shortage of power.

Officials said while it was up to the court to take a view on the issue, it would pass on the arguments made by the steel and power companies.

Hindalco, the Jindals are likely to argue that in accordance with the weightage formula devised by the coal ministry, 66 per cent weightage was given to various works and permissions garnered till before the mining lease stage.

Obtaining a mining lease had a weightage of 3 marks out of 100 and application and completion of land acquisition had a weightage of 12 per cent and the rest of the work before actual mining had 18 per cent.

 
 
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