The auction of three more coal blocks in Chhattisgarh was stayed on Thursday by the Delhi High Court on a plea filed by Sarda Energy and Minerals against the two-phased auction and allowing multiple bids by the same company.
The High Court bench has for now allowed the government to open the initial price offerings (IPOs) for the Gare Palma IV/1, Gare Palma IV/4 and Gare Palma IV/7 coal blocks and announce the list of qualified bidders on Thursday as scheduled, but has directed the government not to conduct the electronic auction (financial bid) till Wednesday, when the case will be heard in detail. The court has also issued notice to the Central government and the companies which had submitted IPOs to file their responses by February 18.
Sarda had opposed the allowing of multiple bids by a company as well as removal of 50 per cent of bidders after opening of IPOs. Under the auction process, only the top 50 per cent of bidders after opening IPOs would move to the next round of auction.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and advocate Akshay Makhija, appearing for the government, told the court that the two-phased auction process was arrived at to eliminate the possibility of cartelisation.
Meanwhile, the court will also hear pleas filed by Jindal Steel and Power Ltd and Jindal Power Ltd against the second coal ordinance 2014 provisions regarding determination of compensation payable to prior allottees towards mining infrastructure and land value.]
The Jindal Group has contended that the compensation the government has computed for some blocks in Chhattisgarh that were earlier allotted to it and which it was operating prior to cancellation of the allocations by Supreme Court last year, was “irrational”.
134 firms clear round 1
Hindalco, Vedanta Group company Balco and GMR Chhattisgarh Energy Limited are among the 134 firms, which have cleared the technical bid for 21 coal blocks put up for auction by the Centre.
Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Essar Power, GVK Power, JSW Energy, Reliance Geothermal Power Private Ltd, Sesa Sterlite are the other major firms whose bids have been found technically qualified.
“Out of the 176 applications we received, 134 are found to be technically valid,” coal secretary Anil Swarup said on Thursday.
While the coal ministry had planned inviting technical bids for 23 coal mines, financial bidding of two functional blocks (Gotitoria East and Gotitoria West) have been put on hold following the Jabalpur High Court’s interim order.
“Consequent to an interim order of Jabalpur (High Court), the auction of two mines has been put on hold in schedule II (producing mines),” coal secretary Anil Swarup added. The ministry had put both the blocks in the unregulated sector but the court directed that they be considered for regulated sector.