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Government urges Supreme Court to spare 46 coal blocks from cancellation

Tuesday, 2 September 2014 - 7:25am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it has no objection if the court cancels allocation of coal blocks allocated between 1993 and 2010. However, it wants to save 46 coal blocks, as the power situation in the country is very critical.

Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi told the bench headed by Chief Justice of India RM Lodha that the government is not in favour of constitution of a committee to recommend on the fate of illegal coal blocks, rather it has no objection to cancel all of them and go for immediate auction.

Rohtagi submitted that out of total 218 coal blocks allocations, 80 have been already cancelled by the government even before the Judgment passed by this court.

He said that the power situation in the country is very critical and at least 46 blocks should be spared as 40 of them are already functional and rest are ready to commence production.

" We will be happy if we save some 40 of them, which are functional or operational and are ready for end use plant. They must not be treated with one brush and can be exempted from cancellation and re-auction, provided they meet the condition of compensating the loss of Rs 295 per tonne caused to the government. The said coal blocks should also enter into a power purchase agreement at Rs95 per tonne to make up the loss," Rohtagi said making it clear to the court that most of the companies dealing with power sector.

To the senior most law officer's submission, the bench indicated saying, "If government is ready for auction, why can't it be started from a clean slate."

Petitioner NGO's lawyer Prashant Bhushan argued that "this court has found that the mining leases are entirely based on the allocation made by the central government and there is no other independent application of mind by the state government therefore, all the mining leases ought to be cancelled."

Senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for Coal Producers Association, argued that "there was a need for balancing the interest" while dealing with the consequences of its August 25 verdict.

He said this was necessary as the court has "not gone into the role of individuals" and the Judgment has not talked about the wrong committed by any individuals.

The Apex Court has held all coal blocks that were allocated y the screening committee between 1993 and 2010, as illegal.

Seeking the government and all parties to file their submissions through affidavits within a week, the bench fixed September 9 as the next date for further hearing.

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