The Himachal Pradesh high court has stayed the de-allocation of a coal block in West Bengal to Himachal EMTA Power Ltd (HEPL) by the union coal ministry, an official said here on Saturday.
Hearing HEPL's petition, a division bench of justice RB Misra and justice Surinder Singh on Friday stayed the order and asked the coal ministry to its file response within four weeks.
It has listed the matter for next hearing Jan 9.
HEPL is a joint venture between the state-owned Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) and Eastern Minerals and Trading Agency (EMTA) for setting up a 500 MW pit-head coal-based thermal power plant at Raniganj in West Bengal.
Acting on the recommendation of the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) on coal, the coal ministry on November 23 de-allocated the Gourangdih ABC coal block allocated jointly to HEPL and JSW Steel on the ground that they had failed to develop it.
It also decided to deduct 50 percent of their bank guarantee, which amounted to Rs. 6.67 crore.
The block has estimated coal reserves of 131.7 million tonne.
State government officials said mining was not initiated as more than 50 percent of the coal block area was thickly populated, and mining was not possible in such places.
"We had been demanding allotment of an alternative block in its place," an official said.