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Monday, 25 August 2014

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Coal block allocations since 1993 illegal: SC

The on Monday held that guidelines were breached in coal block allocations during the UPA government and that the terms of allotment, going as far back as 1993, were themselves illegal.

While the court did not de-allocate the blocks, the bench, headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha, said that no objective criteria was followed for the allocations done by the screening committee. The court is expected to conduct hearings on de-allocation from Sept 1. 


It has suggested setting up of a committee headed by a retired apex court judge to examine what should be done about these coal blocks.

The court also disallowed commercial  diversion of captive coal mines by UMPPs, short for ultra mega power plants.



The bench was hearing a batch of petitions seeking quashing of allocated by the UPA government.

It  examined the allegations about alleged irregularities in the allocation of around 194 coal blocks. The coal blocks were alloted in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh to private companies and parties between 2004 to March 2011.

In 2012, the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India released a report saying that by not following a competitive bidding process for allocation of coal blocks, the national exchequer had lost out on Rs 1.86 lakh crore (Rs 1.86 trillion). 

The irregularities in the coal block allegations, which came to be known as 'Coalgate', eventually led to questions over then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's efficacy -- he held the coal portfolio briefly in 2004 and then again from 2007 through 2012 -- and along with the 2G telecom scam, became a key issue in the BJP's campaign against the government.  

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