India: Supreme Court quashes 214 coal blocks alleging arbitrary & illegal allocation
In a major blow to the corporate sector, the Supreme Court today quashed allocation of 214 out of 218 coal blocks which were alloted to various companies since 1993 and in which it was claimed that around Rs. 2 lakh crores were invested. A bench, headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha, saved only four blocks — one belonging to NTPC and SAIL each and two allocated to Ultra Mega Power Projects — from being cancelled. The bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, granted six months breathing time to mining companies to wind up their operations in the coal blocks.
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Author: Times News Network
Terming the Supreme Court's ruling cancelling 214 coal blocks as "a bit harsh", industry body Assocham on Wednesday said it will lead to higher imports...Our main concern is on the kind of negative impact on the economy which has just been showing signs of recovery after over two years of slowdown," Assocham president Rana Kapoor said reacting on the ruling of the apex court. Being largely dependent on the thermal power, it is the coal which fires the economic growth, which will be halted, besides, the dependence on coal imports will increase," he said.
Author: Bob Burton, Huffingtonpost
Decision by the Supreme Court of India to cancel 214 coal allocations made between 1993 and 2010 was a stunning rebuff to the legal arguments advanced by the Indian coal lobby. While the Supreme Court heard and rejected the industry's arguments on two occasions, many of the same claims are being advanced once more in an effort to shape the Indian government's response to the court's decision.
Author: New York Times
The Supreme Court of India acted wisely to protect both the nation’s democracy and environment in a landmark decision last week that orders the government to scrap 214 coal mining concessions…No doubt India’s laws and regulations merit reform...the government needs investment to kick-start the energy and other infrastructure developments the country needs so badly. But Mr. Modi should heed the strong message from the courts that gutting environmental protection laws and demonizing citizen groups that raise legitimate concerns are no way to move the nation forward.
Author: Shreeja Sen, Ruchira Singh & Aman Malik, Mint
The Supreme Court…scrapped the allocation of all but four of the 218 coal blocks awarded between 1993 and 2010. While the move gives the government an opportunity to make a fresh start and put in place a transparent rules-based regime in the allocation of coal, it also sets in motion attendant problems of unwinding investments and loans already made in some of these projects. Further, this has disruptive potential for the power sector, as a tenth of the existing power capacity in the country comes from captive power… The ruling is more severe than the industry was hoping but it sends a clear message about India taking a stand against the improper allocation of national resources and in favour of improving transparency and good governance,” said Sushil Jacob, a lawyer at London law firm Linklaters.
Author: Akshey Kalra, Greenpeace
The Supreme Court of India cancelled 214 coal blocks allocated to private companies since 1993, deeming them illegal. And one of these coal blocks brings us to the story of Mahan, one of the oldest Sal forests in Asia and livelihood to more than 50,000 people...Mahan was always an example of the illegalities and irregularities in the coal sector…the story of Mahan has been one of corruption, dirty tactics and intimidation. The allocation of the mine to Essar, which was deemed "illegal" by the Supreme Court, is just the start to the can of worms that is the case of Mahan...The story of Mahan is not just the story of one of the oldest sal forests in India, but of every coal block that's in a forest.
Author: Krishnadas Rajagopal, Hindu
The Supreme Court…cancelled all but four of the 218 coal block allocations it had declared illegal and arbitrary in its August 25, 2014 verdict…On the Centre's request to save 40 functional coal blocks and six ready-to-function ones, the court said 42 of them would continue to function for the next 6 months, till March 31, 2015, to give the government "breathing space to manage the emerging situation..The four functional coal blocks exempted from cancellation are two ultra mega power projects, one operated by NTPC and another by SAIL.
Author: Utkarsh Anand, Indian Express
Characterising its verdict as futuristic, corrective as well as compensatory, the Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed allocations of 214 out of 218 coal blocks that it had declared as illegal last month...The court turned down a suggestion by the government to consider saving as many as 46 blocks, either in production or ready to be made operational, after noting that since “these allocations are also illegal and arbitrary, they are also liable to be cancelled...judgment highlighted that these ‘consequence proceedings’ are intended to correct the wrong done by the Union of India.” “These proceedings look to the future by highlighting the wrong. It is expected that the government will not deal with the natural resources that belong to the country as if they belong to a few individuals, who can fritter them away at their sweet will. These proceedings may also compensate the exchequer for the loss caused to it,” it said.