New Delhi, Sep 24 :
The Supreme Court Wednesday cancelled all the coal blocks allocated from 1993 to 2011, except four vested with the NTPC and other public sector undertakings.
However, an apex court bench, headed by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, in its order said that 42 coal blocks under production or about to commence production will
remain with their present managements for the next six months till the centre decides on their reallocation.
The court said that the management of these 42 coal blocks will have to pay a royalty of Rs.295 per tonne of extracted coal during the six months.
India could face power disruptions even as Rs.4 trillion ($66 billion) worth of investments hang in balance with the Supreme Court order, stakeholders said.
They, however, hope the verdict will end uncertainties in the economy and the government will put in place a prudent policy environment to usher in transparency in the system.
Calling for a quick review of the coal blocks allotment policy, industry body FICCI president Sidharth Birla expressed the hope that the verdict would pave the way for full-fledged coal reforms starting with amendment in Coal Mines Nationalization Act, 1973 and Mine Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 to facilitate entry of the private sector in coal exploration and mining.
State Bank of India chairperson, Arundhati Bhattacharya said the bank looks forward to a “swift and transparent” bidding process of the coal blocks cancelled by the Supreme Court.
“We believe that uncertainty is possibly the worst enemy of growth. We are glad that this is over with the SC verdict on coal blocks allocation,” Bhattacharya said ni a statement.
The court has also said that companies that have been mining coal have to pay for all the coal that they have mined or used until 31 March 2015.
Jayaswal Neco, one of the firms affected by the judgement, said the company had long mined the coal from the mine allocated to it and had already passed on the benefits to the consumers.
Giving an estimate of the economic impact of the deallocations, Naveen Jindal, chairman of another affected company Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL) said earlier this month that about Rs.400,000 crore of investment made to develop coal mines would be in jeopardy if the blocks were to be de-allocated.
“If we term the government’s coal allocation policy as faulty and illegal, then the effort put in by the investors to revive the discarded mines of Coal India, the entire Rs.4 lakh crore investment would be in jeopardy,” Jindal had said.
Describing the deallocations of so many blocks as “harsh”, industry chamber Assocham said: “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.” ”
“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,” said Assocham president Rana Kapoor.
Coal-based power constitues 60 percent of India’s installed capacity, followed by hydroelectric generation at 16 percent.
Former coal secretary P.C Parakh said the impact on the economy would depend on the speed of the government reaction to the verdict.
“Impact depends on how quickly the government responds to the Supreme Court verdict and how the procedure for reallocation of coal block is followed,” Parakh said.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said the court verdict is likely to adversely impact domestic coal supplies and will erode investor confidence.
“The court’s decision has created uncertainty and is likely to impact key sectors including power, steel and mining. In particular, given that the power sector is the largest consumer of coal in India this development is likely to exacerbate the shortage of fuel for the power sector,” CII said in a statement here.
Acute fuel shortages are already impacting the power sector and currently close to 80 million tonnes of coal are being imported to meet demand.
Another sector that will be impacted by this ruling is the financial sector as banks account for over 60 percent of the overall investments in these blocks, CII said.
“CII would like to reiterate that while it respects the judgement of the apex court decisions, taken retrospectively could impede future investment flow into the country,” it added.
Scrips of mining and power generation firms slumped Wednesday after the Supreme Court cancelled all the coal blocks allocated from 1993 to 2011.
Hit by the apex courts judgment, stocks of mining, metal and power majors such as Jindal Steel and Power, Tata Steel, Bhushan Steel, Hindalco Industries and Monnet Ispat and Energy fell.
At the provisional close of the day’s trading at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), metal and power index were down. The S&P BSE power index was lower by 7.40 percent and metal index was down 2.85 percent around 3.30 p.m.
Company-wise stocks of Jindal Steel and Power, down 9.99 percent at Rs.189.70, Bhusan Steel, down 4.96 percent at Rs.107.30, Tata Steel, down 2.63 percent at Rs.473.30, Hindalco Inds, 0.48 percent at Rs.156.30, Monnet Ispat, down 8.16 percent at Rs.87.25 and Steel Authority of India, down 2.89 percent at Rs.68.95.
However, state-run Coal India’s scrips gained 5.20 percent at Rs.351.5.
Stocks of power companies like Adani Power were down 2.10 percent at Rs.46.70; GVK Power and Infrastructure, down 6.60 percent at Rs.10.19; JP Power, down 5.86 percent at Rs.13.65; and Moser Baer, down 4.10 percent at Rs.7.48.