Goyal’s backup plan for 40 running coal mines

NEW DELHI : To prevent a serious power crisis if the Supreme Court cancels licence to all the coal mines next week in lieu of its judgment last month declaring their allotment as illegal, Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal has readied a backup plan for the Coal India Limited (CIL) and other central public sector undertakings to immediately takeover and resume production in the 40 operational captive mines.

The idea is to keep on production from these mines and sell the coal so produced to the power and other industries that are dependent on these mines. The industries have made substantial capital investment in these mines and hence they may be asked to pay only the production cost to CIL and other public sector undertakings (PSUs).

The plan was prepared if the Apex Court rejects the government’s affidavit to exempt 40 coal blocks that have already started and six others that are ready to go on steam instead of cancelling all 200 and odd allotments.

Twenty of these captive mines are with PSUs and 20 others with the private companies like Jindal Steel and Power, Prakash Industries, Sunflag Industries and Electrosteel Castings.

LIGNITE: Sources said the ministry has also prepared a list of 15 operational lignite mines awarded in Rajasthan and Gujarat that may also be affected by the Supreme Court”s final order.

On Tuesday, the Bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha had reserved its order that should come latest by September 26, the date when the Chief Justice is retiring. The backup plan is to transfer the operational mines to Coal India and other central undertakings that are already mining in the vicinity.

As regards six coal blocks that were expected to begin operations in the next two, three months, they will be immediately put to auction.

There are a dozen other block allotted for captive use that have made substantial progress in securing environment and forest clearances while another eight have also made moderate progress and they all will be auctioned with the existing allottees getting the first preference to opt for the highest bid in the competitive bidding.

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