Odisha Sun Times Business Bureau
New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, Feb 12:
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday granted relief to the Naveen Jindal-led Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) asking the Coal ministry to remove the two coal blocks allocated to the company in Odisha from the ongoing auction process.
JSPL had contested the change of end use of Utkal B1 coal block in Odisha from steel to power.
The court directed the two blocks be withdrawn from auction and asked the government-appointed technical committee to review the change in the end use. Noting that the criteria adopted by the technical committee were not uniformly followed, the court said it could very well fit in the criteria adopted by the technical committee for specifying the end use as sponge iron/steel.
The criteria adopted by the technical committee did not adequately take into consideration the concerns of the ministry of Steel, which has recommended that the blocks which have earlier been earmarked for iron and steel should not be changed to any other end use, in view of the goal of the Ministry of Coal to achieve 300 Million Tonnes of capacity by 2025, the court said.
There was no clarity as to whether the reserves adopted by the technical committee were geological reserves or extractable reserves and there was no reasoning for taking 100 Million tonnes as cut off figure for specifying the end use to power. This figure could very well have been 150 Million Tonnes or even 200 Million tonnes and no reasons for adopting 100 Million Tonnes were given by the Technical Committee, the court observed.
The High Court also held that there is no rationale or justification for amalgamation of Utkal B1 or Utkal B2 given by the technical committee.
“We welcome the decision of the High Court and are optimistic that the technical committee will consider the merits for end use of coal blocks as envisaged earlier. JSPL has already invested in excess of Rs 30,000 crore in setting up end use plants in Odisha based on Utkal B1 mines,” a JSPL spokesperson said reacting to the Delhi High Court decision .
In its endeavour to deploy indigenous natural resources in steel making, JSPL has already set up the world’s largest DRI based Coal Gasification Plant (CGP) in Angul, Odisha. We are confident that the government under the distinguished and exemplary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will consider our end-use projects in Odisha on their merits – including the innovative use of indigenous coal as well as their huge potential of employment creation in the respective regions, the spokesperson added.