A draft Cabinet note by the ministry, a copy of which has been reviewed by FE, says while the government has earmarked certain explored coal blocks to be auctioned first, the land surrounding these blocks has been acquired by CIL and its subsidiaries under the Coal Bearing Area Act (CBA), Coal Mines Nationalisation Act (CMN) or the Land Acquisition Act. The ministry has proposed that the rights be transferred to the winning bidder by the national miner or its subsidiaries.
The transfer of land rights is subject to mutually agreed conditions between CIL and its subsidiaries and the allottee, which could include the cost incurred in acquiring the land and rehabilitation and resettlement measures associated with land acquisition, a government official told FE.
The official said a precedent for transferring land rights to operators was set by the former attorney general GE Vahanvati when he approved the transfer of land rights to Reliance Power for its Sasan UMPP from Northern Coalfields (NLC) a CIL subsidiary in January this year. He added that the coal ministry is of the view that the same process should be followed for all blocks to be allotted now.
The state government will, however, continue to grant the mining lease to the designated firm as per the provisions of the amended Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act. As per the amendment, the state government can grant mining licences to companies selected through an auction by competitive bidding.
This transfer would enable a successful allottee of the coal block to acquire land and carry out its mining operations unhindered, the official added.