HC rejects Jindal Steel’s plea to retain coal block land for dumping fly ash

Delhi High Court: The Single Bench of Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, J. has dismissed the petition of Jindal Steel & Power Ltd seeking exclusion of an area of 298.913 hectares from the Gare Palma-IV/1 coal mine, that JSPL contended was necessary for operation of its Dongamahua Captive Power Plant.

In 1996, JSPL was allocated coal block Gare Palma-IV/1, however the Supreme Court in Manoharlal Sharma v. Principal Secretary, (2014) 9 SCC 516 later cancelled the allocation for being arbitrary and illegal. In pursuance to the Supreme Court judgment, the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 was enacted. In accordance with the Act, Union of India issued letter to all the prior allottees including JSPL to provide details of land and mine infrastructure. JSPL thereto stated that they intended to retain an area of Gare Palma IV/1 as the same was required to dump fly ash generated from its captive power plant. The Nominated Authority, constituted under the Act, did not include the aforesaid area in the tender issued for auction of Gare Palma IV/1. Later, the designated custodian of the coal mine, informed JSPL that its request for back-filling of fly ash in the coal mine cannot be permitted. The instant petition was therefore filed seeking exclusion of the aforesaid area from Gare Palma-IV/1 coal mine.

The Court noted that not only were the rights of the petitioner in Gare Palma IV/1 Coal Block including in the aforesaid area cancelled by the Supreme Court, but vide Section 17(1) of the Act the said rights stood transferred in favour of the Central Government. Also, there was no provision in the Act that empowered the Nominated Authority to exclude the said area from Gare Palma IV/1 Coal Mine. The Court also observed that the effect of exclusion of the said area in the tender issued for auction of Gare Palma IV/1 would only be that the successful bidder would not have any right thereto but the said area of land would still continue to vest in the Nominated Authority and not vest in the petitioner. The petition was dismissed accordingly. [Jindal Steel & Power Limited v. Union of India, Writ Petition No. 3398 of 2015, decided on January 24, 2017]

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