Scrap all but 46 coal blocks allotted since 1993: Attorney general

NEW DELHI: The Centre has told the Supreme Court that the government was prepared for the eventuality of cancellation of all coal block allocations since 1993 as that was the logical corollary of the court terming them illegal. Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said, “All coal blocks are declared illegal. One simple consequence is to cancel all of them.

As the judgment stands, across the board, all allocations are illegal and cancellation is a logical corollary. Our endeavour is to settle this at the earliest, especially when the country is facing a serious power crisis.” He added, “If that happens, we will work out the consequences. We have no problem, we will auction the cancelled allocations.”

Appearing before a bench of Chief Justice RM Lodha and justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, which on August 25 had declared all allocations since 1993 as illegal, Rohatgi said the government was prepared for auction of cancelled coal block allotments.

The court asked the Centre to file an affidavit on this issue within a week and posted it for hearing on September 9. The government also said it did not want a committee of retired Supreme Court judges, as suggested by the apex court on August 25, to go into each case and determine whether any of them could be saved from cancellation. “The bottom line is — we do not want the committee.

We are not going to save anything declared illegal. If the Supreme Court says all must go, then let all go,” Rohatgi said while requesting the court to examine the possibility of saving 40 coal block allocations linked to end-use plants which were operational after signing lease agreement with state governments where the coal mine was located.

He said there were another six such coal blocks where end-use plants had been set up and were on the verge of starting operations using coal from the allotted mines. But since no agreement had been signed with the states, the apex court said they could not be categorized along with the 40 coal blocks mentioned by the Centre.

Rohatgi, who had assistance from solicitor general Ranjit Kumar and additional solicitor general Maninder Singh, said those coal blocks allowed to be operated by functional end-use plants would be levied Rs 295 per tonne of coal extracted for using the mineral at cheap price if the power generating units had not signed power purchase agreements with states. Power purchase agreements takes care of the subsidized coal provided to the generating units and passes on the benefit to consumers, he said.

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