New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday said it cannot restrict the companies, whose mining licences it has cancelled, from extracting coal as they have been allowed to carry on for six months till their ownership and management can be transferred.
The apex court bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice A.K. Sikri, while not accepting the plea of advocate M.L. Sharma, said the court has not put any cap on coal extraction by these mining lease holders, whose leases it has cancelled, as they have been asked to continue with their operations for the next six months.
Mentioning his application, Sharma told the court these mining companies, knowing that they would lose their mines after six months, were extracting much more coal than their requirement and were putting it out for commercial gains.
Nobody said that they (cancelled leases holders with operational coal blocks) will not extract the coal, Chief Justice Dattu said, adding nowhere it was said that coal extraction would be 100 tonnes, 200 tonnes or 1,000 tonnes.
“They had the leases. Today we have cancelled them. But in the meanwhile they have been given time till six months to continue with their operations,” the court said as Sharma pressed his plea.
The apex court by its Sep 24 order cancelled the 214 coal blocks but of these it carved out exception in respect of 46 coals blocks. Forty of these coal blocks are operational and six in the stage of commencing their operations any time.
Of these 46 coal blocks, four survived the axe as they were vested with the NTPC, SAIL and Sasan UltraAMega Power Projects.
For the rest 42 coal blocks, the court by its order said, “Although we have quashed the allotment of 42 out of these 46 coal blocks, we make it clear that the cancellation will take effect only after six months from today, which is with effect from 31st March, 2015.”
Justifying the six-month breather to these cancelled mining leases, the court order said: “This period of six months is being given since the Central government and CIL would need some time to adjust to the changed situation and move forward.”