Row over coal transportation; HC asks Centre, CIL to respond

Row over coal transportation; HC asks Centre, CIL to respond New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Coal and Defence ministries to respond to a plea of seven firms of former armed forces personnel alleging Coal India Ltd (CIL) failed to pay "escalated" price on yearly basis to them for loading and transportation of coal.

Besides the central ministries, Justice Rajiv Shakdher also issued notices to CIL, Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd and Director General Re-settlement of Defence Ministry and fixed the matter for further hearing on September 3.

The court was hearing a petition filed by M/s Khushi Coal Transport Pvt Ltd and six other coal transportation companies formed by former army personnel.

In a bid to rehabilitate former armed forces personnel, the Director General Re-settlement (DGR) had sponsored the firms to load and transport coal from various mines owned by CIL, the petition, filed through lawyer T L Garg, said.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), entered into by CIL and DGR in 1999, said the price for coal transportation, to be paid to firms, would be raised yearly and it would be fixed by CIL in consultation with DGR, it said.

However, CIL "failed to pay" the escalated price to the firms, it said.

"The respondents (CIL and others) had been honestly fixing rates and escalations 'yearly' as enshrined in MoU regularly in letter and spirit till 2001. The raise had been 7 to 8 percent per annum during 1993-2001," it said.

"From April 1, 2009 till July 31, 2012, no escalations were paid 'yearly'..." and later, CIL, on July 31, 2012, fixed the transportation rate for next three years without any consultation with DGR, it said.

It sought quashing of CIL's order saying that instead of yearly price hike, the revised transportation is valid for three years and moreover, the MoUs have not been followed.

PTI