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Delhi HC allows Tata Sponge Iron to apply for forest clearance

Coal blocks allocated to Tata Sponge had been de-allocated by the coal ministry and this was challenged in the high court by Tata Sponge and other companies like Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd and three others. Photo: Hindustan TimesPremium
Coal blocks allocated to Tata Sponge had been de-allocated by the coal ministry and this was challenged in the high court by Tata Sponge and other companies like Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd and three others. Photo: Hindustan Times

The court says there is no reason why Tata Sponge cannot approach the ministry of environment and forests for grant of clearances

New Delhi: In a relief to companies whose coal blocks had been de-allocated, the Delhi high court on Thursday allowed Tata Sponge Iron Ltd to apply for forest clearance to the ministry of environment and forests, despite opposition from the government.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru allowed the company to continue the process of obtaining various clearances mandated under law while the issue of the validity of the de-allocation was still being decided.​

Additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, appearing on behalf of the government, had argued that since the blocks had already been de-allocated, the question of clearances did not arise.

Senior advocate Arvind Nigam, appearing for Tata Sponge, informed the court that 17 steps have to be taken to make a mine functional. He argued that Tata Sponge had taken 15 of them and till the case is decided, it should be permitted to obtain the remaining clearances so that if the court holds that the de-allocation was invalid, it does not have to waste time seeking clearances.

Saying that the merits of the de-allocation would be decided at the final stage, the court said there was no reason why Tata Sponge could not approach the ministry of environment and forests for grant of clearances.

Coal blocks allocated to Tata Sponge had been de-allocated by the coal ministry and this was challenged in the high court by Tata Sponge and other companies like Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd and three others.

As interim relief to the companies, the high court had earlier ordered the government to maintain status quo, to not take any further steps to re-allocate the coal blocks or create any third party interest with respect to the de-allocated blocks.

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