Claiming it was “doubly punished” for the government’s fault, Jindal Power (JPL) on Monday moved the Supreme Court citing its inability to shell out a R1,793-crore penalty by the court-mandated deadline of December 31, reports Utkarsh Anand in New Delhi. JPL and parent Jindal Steel & Power need to pay R1,793 crore towards a R295 a tonne penalty for illegal mining. JPL operates two coal blocks, Gare Palma IV/2 and IV/3, and JSPL has one block, Gare Palma IV/1, in Chhattisgarh. JPL said it had to pay R1,024.54 crore as additional levy with respect to its blocks Gare Palma IV/2 and IV/3.
It would have to pay R768.83 crore would be the levy with respect to coal block Gare Palma IV/1, which is operated by JSPL.
As per the plea, the penalty to be paid by them is the “highest among the operational coal block allottees” and it would comprise about 20% of the total additional levy sought to be collected from all operational coal blocks that stand deallocated.
In the application, which will come up for hearing on Thursday, JPL asked for a time frame of three years to make the payment in 36 equal monthly instalments, while also raising apprehensions it may have to close down a few plants if the court does not allow its prayer. It had also pleaded for permission to participate in the future auction of the coal blocks without getting disqualified on the basis of not paying the levy by the deadline.
While scrapping allocation of 214 out of 218 coal blocks, the court had ordered allottees to cough up a penalty of R295 per tonne of coal extracted as additional levy, as assessed by the Comptroller and Auditor General. It had sought payment by December 31 and also held the coal extracted till March 31, 2015, will also attract the additional levy.
“The payment of additional levy is humongous and back-breaking, which is forcing the applicant to financial ruin. The imposition of such a levy was unexpected and the applicant has not made any provision in the books of account…if this Hon’ble Court does not extend the time to pay the additional levy, grave prejudice would be caused in not only carrying out its expansion plans, payment of debts but also in carrying out operations,” JPL said.
It added that “financial distress” may lead to closure of its plants, which would also have severe impact on the 50,000 families of the JPL and JSPL employees. JPL contended it had no role to play in the infirmities as referred to by the court in its September verdict and it was being “doubly punished”, first, by the blocks’ cancellation and second due to the additional levy.