The Centre today told the Delhi High Court that it will postpone bidding for Jhamkhani coal block in Odisha till August 24 but will announce the technically qualified bidders tonight.
The bidding for Jhamkhani was scheduled to start from August 11.
The ministry of coal made the submission before a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva after the court said if the bidding was postponed by two-three weeks it can pronounce its verdict on the issue of multiple end-uses, for coal mines.
The bench had in April this year reserved its verdict on similar pleas by Utkal Coal Ltd, Monnet Ispat and EnergyLtd and Jayaswal Neco Industries Ltd (JNIL) which had challenged the government’s decision to club all sectors, barring power, under a single category for coal block auctions.
Today the court was hearing the petition of Bhushan Power and Steel Ltd (BPSL) challenging the government’s decision to auction the mine for multiple end-uses like steel, cement and captive power plants.
BPSL has sought that the mine be auctioned only for manufacture of steel.
Jhamkhani coal block was earlier put up in the first round of coal auctions. However, it was taken off the table after Bhushan Steel challenged the government’s decision to earmark the mine for multiple end-uses.
Now the block has again been put up for auction and the last date of submission of technical bids for it was July 21.
Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and central government Standing Counsel (CGSC) Amit Mahajan told the court that Bhushan Steel is one of the technically qualified bidders.
Bhushan Steel, however, contended that it could lose out on the mine during bidding as it would have to compete against aluminium manufacturing industries which are able to bid more even though aluminium is not a specified end-use under the coal ordinance, BPSL has said.
Aluminium companies can bid for the mine as the end-use of captive power plant does not specify what would be its final use, whether to provide power to make steel or aluminium or cement, BPSL has said.