New Delhi: The central government Thursday told the Supreme Court it was examining the option of withdrawing the coal blocks allocated to private companies after 2006.

Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told a bench headed by Justice R.M. Lodha that the court’s views on de-allocation were under the government’s consideration.

“… I have given my personal views to the government. Government has taken up the matter. This view is being considered by the government,” Vahanvati said.

“So, it is under consideration,” Justice Lodha observed as Vahanvati told the court: “I will apprise the court of the outcome by Wednesday (Jan 15).”

Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking the cancellation of coal blocks allocated after 2006, the apex court had Wednesday asked the attorney general if the coal blocks could be de-allocated.

Vahanvati then told the court it was possible as no substantial development was made and that by Thursday he would seek the government’s response to the court’s query.

The allocation under scanner concerns 32 coal blocks allocated after 2006 to private companies by the screening committee of the coal ministry.

The court Wednesday said: “If you are going to cancel it, then we will have to look differently from the point of view of law. Then, we will look (allocations of coal blocks) prior to 2005.”

During the course of the submissions Thursday, Vahanvati reiterated that mere allocation of coal blocks does not bestow any rights for mining leases to the allottees.

There are several steps involving environmental and forest clearance before the state government issue mining leases, he added.

On this court asked what the government was waiting for.

“You yourself are saying that these allocation letters are not enforceable then what are you waiting for…,” Justice Lodha asked the attorney general.

“For cancellation,” Vahanvati asked.

As Justice Lodha said “Yes”, Vahanvati said, “I am waiting for instructions (from the government)”.

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