Allocatees of as many as 96 coal blocks out of the 204 coal blocks whose allocation have been quashed by the Supreme Court are yet to provide the Ministry of Coal with information concerning their employees and status of land ownership.
Following the Supreme Court judgment quashing the coal block allocations, the Ministry of Coal wrote to the allocatees of the affected coal blocks on October 1 seeking information about the number of employees engaged by them including managerial staff, supervisory staff and staff/labourers. The letter mentioned that information with regard to contractual employees of the mine developer-cum-operator was not required. It also sought land ownership details like land required as per mine plan, land owned as on September 24 and October 6, 2014, status of acquisition of remaining land and status of environment and forest clearances. The information is expected to help the government decide which of the cancelled coal blocks to allocate to Coal India Ltd or other central public sector enterprises and the ones to put up for auction.
The Ministry of Coal had asked the allocatees of the 204 coal blocks to furnish the information by October 7. The same information with regard to allocatees of the affected coal blocks was also sought from the Director General – Directorate General of Mine Safety, the Coal Controller and the Coal Mines Provident Fund Commissioner.
In a reminder sent to the allocatees of the 96 coal blocks on October 14, the Ministry of Coal once again requested that the information be provided at the earliest.
“Since, it is an Hon’ble Supreme Court matter and no response has been received from your company, you are requested to furnish the information without any further delay. In case, no reply is received, it may be presumed that your company has no information to furnish,” the reminder from the Ministry of Coal said.
On August 25, the Supreme Court declared all coal block allocations since 1993 as illegal. Between 1993 and 2010, a total of 218 coal blocks were allocated by the government. The Supreme Court has cancelled allocation of all but 14 coal blocks. The 204 coal blocks whose allocation have been quashed by the Supreme Court include 37 coal blocks that are under production and five coal blocks likely to come under production. In case of these 42 coal blocks, the cancellation of allocation comes into effect from March 31, 2015. The coal blocks under production have to pay a penalty of Rs. 295 for every metric tonne of coal mined.