Govt. told to scrap 26 coal blocks

Power Watch India - - DISPATCHES NATIONAL -

In a new de­vel­op­ment, the At­tor­ney gen­eral, Mr G. E. Va­han­vati has ad­vised the gov­ern­ment to can­cel coal block al­lo­ca­tions to pri­vate firms since 2005 if th­ese have not been con­verted into min­ing li­censes fol­low­ing statu­tory clear­ances. “I have taken up the mat­ter with the gov­ern­ment. I have told them about my views. It is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. I will in­form the court about the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion,” the AG re­port­edly told a bench of Jus­tices R M Lodha, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, which is mon­i­tor­ing CBI probe into al­leged ir­reg­u­lar al­lo­ca­tion of coal blocks.

The de­ci­sion of the gov­ern­ment is ex­pected to have di­rect reper­cus­sions for 26 pri­vate allottees. Al­though they have not got min­ing li­cences, th­ese en­ti­ties, some of them known for their po­lit­i­cal clout, have ben­e­fit­ted hugely from the al­lo­ca­tions. Of the 46 coal blocks al­lot­ted to pri­vate par­ties since 2005 un­der Congress-led UPA regimes and which are cur­rently un­der the scan­ner, the gov­ern­ment has al­ready de-al­lo­cated 15. Of the re­main­ing 31 al­lo­ca­tions, two have been granted min­ing lease by states, while in three other cases, prospect­ing li­cence has been given. The fate of al­lo­ca­tions has hung in bal­ance since the Comptroller and Au­di­tor Gen­eral (CAG) in its Au­gust 2012 re­port es­ti­mated that the al­lo­ca­tion of 57 coal blocks to pri­vate com­pa­nies from 2005 to 2009 with­out com­pet­i­tive bid­ding re­sulted in a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the ex­che­quer. While the AG’s of­fer may help Congress feel that it has put the lid on the po­lit­i­cally sap­ping “coal scam”, sec­tions in the gov­ern­ment re­main con­cerned that the SC may choose to scrap all al­lo­ca­tions, es­pe­cially those made since 2004 when UPA-1 mooted auc­tions and the then coal sec­re­tary warned of windfall gains to pri­vate op­er­a­tors.

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