The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear the plea seeking cancellation of coal block allocation in Chhattisgarh to Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RRVUNL) and the mining operations by Adani Enterprise Limited (AEL) for violating the environmental clearance granted by the Environment Ministry.
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Krishna Murari took note of the submissions of lawyer Prashant Bhushan that the apex court had issued notice on the PIL in April 2019 and after that, it has not been listed for hearing.
“This is regarding a coal block in Chhattisgarh where the notice was issued in 2019 the last date was in January 2020. After that, it has not been listed. We have challenged the legality of that coal block,” Bhushan said.
He said that there was another connected matter arising out of the same coal block in which the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had restrained the cutting of trees and it was listed before the bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud which had ordered its listing for hearing on July 14.
“Let both the matters be listed together,” Bhushan said, adding that a fixed date may be given for the hearing.
“It will come. Some senior judges have some health issues. It will come,” the CJI said.
The top court, in April 2019, had issued notices to the Centre and others on the PIL filed by Dinesh Kumar Soni, an activist hailing from Chhattisgarh.
The PIL has sought a CBI probe into the coal block allocation.
Soni has also sought a direction to RRVUNL to cancel its joint venture and coal mining delivery agreement with AEL and Parsa Kente Collieries Limited (PKCL), a joint venture between the RVUNL and the AEL, with AEL being the majority stakeholder.
Challenging the PKCL’s shareholding pattern, the PIL said, ”RRVUNL has 26 percent stake in the joint venture and Adani 74 percent.” The petition sought the apex court’s directions to the Centre to cancel the allocation of the Parsa East and Kanta-Basan (PEKB), Parsa, and Kente Extension coal blocks to the RRVUNL.
The mine operations were allegedly violating the conditions of the environmental clearance granted to the RRVUNL by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (now the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate) concerning the PEKB open-cast coal mine project.
In June 2007, the PEKB block was allocated to the RRVUNL for Chhabra and other power plants and the RRVUNL chose the AEL as mine developer and operator, it said.
The NGT had quashed the forest clearance for the project in March 2014 as the mine was located in dense forest, and declared a ”no-go” area for mining after a joint study by the Ministry of Environment and Forest and the Ministry of Coal.