New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that it will withdraw Jhamkhani coal mine in Odisha, for which Bhushan Power and Steel Ltd has put in its bid, from the ongoing auction process.
This decision was conveyed to the court after a bench of justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva suggested postponing of the auction of the mine or its withdrawal from the auction process to allow the court enough time to decide on the contentions raised by the company.
Bhushan, along with Utkal Coal Ltd, Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd as well as Jayaswal Neco Industries Ltd (JNIL), have challenged the Coal Ministry's decision to club all other sectors, except power, under one category for the coal mines auction.
The bench said as a result of the withdrawal of the block, Bhushan's petition has become infructuous and "is disposed of".
The pleas of Utkal, Monnet and JNIL were listed by the court for further hearing on March 25, as the blocks in which the companies were interested in have already been auctioned.
The court also issued notice to the Coal Ministry and Ambuja Cement on JNIL's plea seeking their response before the next date of hearing.
Ambuja was the successful bidder for the coal mine, Gare Palma IV/8 in Chhattisgarh for which JNIL had also put in its bid.
The court sought counter affidavits from the Ministry on the pleas of Utkal and Monnet.
During the brief hearing, it expressed surprise that despite India having the fourth largest coal reserve in the world, the industries in the country were importing coal from outside for "no rhyme or reason".
The court made the observation after Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain said import of coal is inevitable and every industry is currently importing the mineral.