Verdict may hit economy, hard, says law minister

A day after the Supreme Court declared all coal block allocations from 1993 to 2010 as “illegal”, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday sought to draw attention to its “impact on the economy”,  saying this should also be factored in when the court resumes the case on September 1.
 
If the blocks are de-allocated, it would put potential investments worth Rs 2 lakh crore in power, steel and cement sectors at risk. 

“This issue is required to be examined carefully with regard to the implications of the judgement. Other issue to consider is the impact on the economy,” Prasad told HT, adding he was expressing these views “in personal capacity” and a structured response of the government has to come from the coal ministry.
 
He said that prima facie, he viewed it as a two-pronged issue. The first issue is about allocations, which are “tainted with corruption and massive irregularity. They must go,” he said.

The other issue is procedural. “If the screening committee’s procedures were flawed, the coal ministry will have to examine, particularly for public sector undertakings like Coal India and NTPC, as to how much investment has been made, generation has started or not; in some particular cases like coal blocks to non-governmental entities for captive purposes like power, steel, cement, the ministry has to examine how much investment has been made and whether the production has started,” he said. “A cumulative view has to be taken so that the law is respected and the imperatives of economic development like power generation are also factored in.”

 

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