Commercial coal mining, As soon as the process of auctioning coal blocks for commercial mining was sanctioned by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi,the government of Jharkhand has moved the Supreme Court to postpone the commercial auction of coal mining.
The process of commercial mining has been challenged. Jharkhand government has stated that the need for fair assessment of the social and environmental impact of commercial mining must be seen”on the huge ‘tribal population’ and vast tracts of ‘Forest lands’ of the State and its residents which are likely to be adversely affected.”
Advocate Tapesh Kumar Singh moved the plea by stating the adverse impact of the process of commercial mining in an already negative ‘Global Investment Climate’ prevailing due to ‘COVID-19’ and which is“unlikely to fetch reasonable returns proportionate to the value of the scarce natural resources.”
Due to the lapseof The Mineral Laws Amendment Act, 2020 on May 14 , the process of auction began in the face of the “legal vacuum” created in the absence of the amendment act, noted the Plea.
In the backdrop of the August 2019 decision of the Union Cabinet where a decision was taken to allow 100% FDI in Coal Mining, the petition was clubbed with a letter for urgent listing matters.
In January, The Mineral Laws Amendment Ordinance 2020, promulgated, permitted foreign companies in commercial coal mining through auctions and same was retained in the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Act, 2020. However, the provision remained in force for a period of 60 days only as the Act lapsed, thereafter.
Section 11A of the MMDR Act, 1957 was restored as it stood before the amendments brought about on January 10 by the 2020 Ordinance and the Act until it lapsed.
The aim of the centre is to start the process for auctioning 41 coal blocks for commercial coal mining for domestic as well as global firms under the 100% FDI route to make self-reliant and powerful energy sector in India.
The plea puts questions on the Centre’s decision as to what happened between the span of August, 2020 (when Union Cabinet decided to allow 100% FDI in commercial coal mining) to 13th March, 2020 (that necessitated the Mineral Laws (Amendment), 2020, to be a temporary law).
Further it also enquired about the flip-flop policy as a strategically and economically important ingredient of the energy basket of the country that too within a short span of time, as to boost investors’ confidence, especially in. the post-COVID-19 scenario, where countries would be away from China and towards India.