SC notice to centre, Odisha on coal field lease

Last Updated: Mon, Oct 15, 2012 14:40 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the central and Odisha governments on a petition seeking the cancellation of coal mining lease of a joint venture between Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and a private company.

Petitioner Purna Chandra Sahu has also sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the lease of Utkal D block of Talcher coal field alleging that the state-owned OMC illegally gave a majority stake in the coal block to a private company.

The apex court bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice Anil R. Dave issued notice after Sahu's counsel Suresh Tripathy said that the manner in which 74 percent stake in the coal block was given to private company Sainik Mining and Allied Services Ltd pointed to breach of constitutional provisions of equality.

Tripathy told the court that there were dubious transactions and politicians were involved in them.

While the notice has also been issued to the CBI and the OMC, the petition said that the decision of the state government was "influenced by favouritism".

The court was told that the central government's communication of Dec 19, 2003, giving in-principle consent was sent to OMC Jan 5, 2004. But much before that, the state-owned mining company entered into an agreement with Sainik Mining giving it 76 percent stake.

The apex court-appointed central empowered committee on environmental matters held as highly improper the diversion of 137.02 hectares forest land for coal mining.

The petition said that April 1, 2009 the central government wrote to the state government pointing to illegality committed by giving 76 percent equity to the private partner.

Sahu alleged that the coal field, which was given to the OMC free of cost, was estimated to have reserves valued at Rs.30,000 crore.

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