Govt finalising ordinance to acquire cancelled coal blocks

The government is readying an ordinance that would enable it to acquire coal blocks whose allotments have been rendered illegal by the Supreme Court order in the coal scam case.

The apex court cancelled allocation of 214 coal blocks allotted to various companies since 1993, after it was found that their allocations were made without following any rules or guidelines (See: Supreme Court cancels allocation of 214 coal blocks, spares 4).

The government on Monday said the ordinance on acquiring the land has been finalised and will be notified after the union cabinet approves it, so that these mines can be auctioned soon.

The coal ministry has designed the measure as the Parliament was not in session and the ordinance is expected to be approved before month-end, ministry sources said.

After acquiring the lands, the government would auction these coal blocks.

The SC had allowed the government to retain operation of 42 of these blocks that are functional.

Successful bidders in the fresh auction of coal blocks may take possession of the land along with the plant on payment of cost of the land and the plant along with 12 per cent interest on the original investment cost.

Also, all allottees whose blocks were cancelled by the SC would be eligible to participate in the fresh auction, barring those convicted in coal related cases, sources said.

The ordinance has been drafted after extensive consultations with attorney general Mukul Rohatgi.

The government would have to resolve issues like forfeiture of bank guarantees and title deeds of the land mines purchased by the companies.