The Centre rubbished the charges made in the CAG report-based petitions alleging huge scam in coal block allocations and said it had put in place four sets of regulatory mechanism which had functioned well to monitor and take corrective measures. Responding to six questions the court had asked on a PIL filed by M L Sharma who had sought quashing of all 194 blocks of coal, the coal secretary in his affidavit told the Supreme Court that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had not taken into account the entire fact-sheet and history of the coal block allocation before giving its remarks.
It said since Coal India Ltd and other public sector agencies did not have the wherewithal to meet the demands from private power generators, the government had no alternative but to allot captive coal blocks "if it wanted to ensure speedy development in key sectors".
It cited the report of the expert committee on Integrated Energy Policy which said to deliver a sustained growth rate of 8% 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/supply by five to six times of their 2003-04 levels.
The coal secretary said, "allocation of coal blocks by the government has helped to achieve the objective of the policy as outlines above."
However, it said the targets fixed for production from captive blocks as originally envisaged could not be achieved due to various factors which include the delays on account of obtaining necessary clearances.
"So far 218 blocks with geological reserves of about 50 billion tonnes have been allocated to eligible public and private companies. Out of that, 25 blocks have been de-allocated, and two blocks have been re-allocated. Thus, the net allocated blocks are 195 with geological reserves of about 44.23 billion tonnes," the secretary said.
Of these 30 coal blocks have come into production and the production during 2011-12 from them was 36.24 million tonnes. "This includes 26.1 million tonnes of coal used in power sector with potential to produce 6,000mw of power," he said.
In a 274-page affidavit with additional annexure, the government said the regulating mechanism had from time to time taken action against the defaulters after taking into account the genuine problems faced by them.
The Supreme Court had on September 14, 2012, issued notice to the Centre on coal block allocations and asked the action it proposed to take against illegal allotments and those allottees who breached the contract.
Source - TOI