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Web Exclusive | January 2013

Coal ministry justifies allocation of blocks to captive miners

Union coal ministry justified the allocation of coal blocks to private captive coal miners on grounds that Coal India and other public sector agencies could not meet the demands from private power generators.

Therefore, the government had no alternative but to allot captive coal blocks "if it wanted to ensure speedy development in key sectors", the coal secretary said in his affidavit filed at the Supreme Court.

The affidavit was submitted in response to six questions the court had asked on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by ML Sharma. In the PIL, Sharma sought quashing of all 194 blocks of coal allocated to different companies.

The coal secretary also said that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) did not take into account the entire fact-sheet and history of the coal block allocation before giving its remarks.

The affidavit cited the report of the expert committee on Integrated Energy Policy which said to deliver a sustained growth rate of 8 percent till 2031-32 and to meet the lifeline energy needs of all citizens, India needed, at the very least, to increase its primary energy supply by three to four times and its electricity generation capacity or supply by five to six times of their 2003-04 levels.

Owing to to various factors like delays in obtaining necessary clearances, the targets fixed for production from captive blocks as originally envisaged could not be achieved, the affidavit said.

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