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4 coal blocks which are government-run, non-Joint-venture allotments were spared- state firms NTPC Ltd, Steel Authority of India Ltd and two Ultra Mega Power Projects.
“The government is ready to face implications of coal block cancellation,” a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha had said in its 163-page verdict.
The apex court had ruled last month that all coal mining licences awarded between 1993 and 2010 are illegal.
Both India’s main political parties, Congress and the now-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has been in power during the period.
The court on Wednesday granted six months ‘breathing time’ to companies whose blocks have been cancelled to wind up business. India has the world’s fifth-largest reserves of coal at 61 billion tonnes.
“Government will be free to auction coal blocks post March 31, 2015,” the Attorney General said. “Coal India Limited has been asked to take over operational blocks for 6 months,” the Attorney General added.
“The entire allocation of coal block as per recommendations made by the Screening Committee from July 14, 1993 in 36 meetings and the allocation through the government dispensation route suffers from the vice of arbitrariness and legal flaws,” said the top court’s verdict on Wednesday in New Delhi.
India’s “Coalgate” scandal, estimated in a 2012 audit report to have cost the taxpayer up to $33 billion. Supply bottlenecks force many Indian generators to import coal making India the third biggest importer of coal in the world.
TBP and Agencies