The government on Tuesday cleared a bill on coal block auctions to replace an ordinance that was promulgated to begin auction of coal mines that were cancelled by the Supreme Court.
The bill to replace the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 2014 is likely to be brought before the Parliament during the ongoing winter session.
"Cabinet has approved the bill," a source said after the Cabinet meeting in Delhi.
The Supreme Court had in September cancelled allocation of 204 coal blocks, including 42 operational mines and another 32 ready-to-start blocks.
Government through the ordinance started the process of auctioning at least 74 operational or ready-to-operate blocks with the target of allocating them by March, well before the deadline set by Supreme Court for companies operating the mines to wind up operations.
The ordinance has been opposed by the central trade unions, including BJP-affiliated trade union Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS). BMS as also AITUC, CITU, HMS and INTUC have jointly opposed the government's proposal to allow private players to mine coal and sell it in the open market, a right till now reserved with the state-owned Coal India Limited.
The ordinance has also come under attack from Left parties.
Meanwhile government has already said that the 74 coal mines, which government plans to auction to specific end-users in the first phase of bidding on February 11, will not require any green clearances.
The auction will be for the private sector, while state-owned companies will get mines via allotment.
The government had last week announced auctioning and allotment of 74 blocks in the first phase of bidding. These blocks have a potential to produce 210 million tonnes of coal.
Government had already made it clear that the number of mines a company can bid will be capped to avoid monopoly.