The apex court had then cancelled 204 out of 218 captive coal block licences, saying that these had been allocated in an illegal and arbitrary manner.
Coal production from captive mines in the first eleven months of the ongoing fiscal have increased by 18.8% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 51.7 million tonne (MT) from the corresponding period in FY19. However, about 53% of the output came from coal blocks which were not cancelled by the Supreme Court in its September 2014 order.
The apex court had then cancelled 204 out of 218 captive coal block licences, saying that these had been allocated in an illegal and arbitrary manner. After the Supreme Court ruling, 36 coal mines has been auctioned so far. The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which removes end-use restrictions in coal blocks to be put up for auctions, essentially ending the practice of captive mining and allowing coal mine developers to sell the fuel to consumers in the open market.
The union government in January had issued the ordinance for the same, along with amendments to the MMDR Act 1957 and the CMSP Act 2015 have also been amended to allocate coal blocks for composite prospecting licence-cum-mining lease to make it more attractive for commercial mining.
The new edicts will come into force after the President’s assent and is seen to to put an end to the long-held monopoly of public-sector behemoth Coal India (CIL).
Production by CIL declined 1.9% annually to 517.8 million tonne (MT) in the first eleven months of FY20, mainly due to excessive rains hampering mining operations during the monsoons earlier this year. Law and order issues in some major mines and several employee union strikes after the Cabinet’s February 2019 decision to ease mining norms for private companies also hampered the world’s largest miner’s production.
The drop in CIL production in the fiscal would have been much lower had it not recorded a 14.2% annual rise in its February output. The coal production scenario has improved at least from the November, 2019 levels, when CIL output was lower by 7.8% year-on-year (y-o-y).