New Delhi: The central government on Thursday withdrew the Jamkhani mine in Orissa from the second round of the coal mine auctions. This was disclosed before the Delhi high court by additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain.

Jain was appearing for the ministry of coal on a petition filed by Bhushan Steel and Power Ltd (BPSL) challenging the clubbing of the end uses for the unregulated sector for the purpose of the auctions. The initial price offers had already been opened for the mine and were supposed to be uploaded on Thursday, Jain told the court, but the process will commence afresh once the government takes a decision about the future course of action.

A bench of justices B.D. Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva disposed of BPSL’s petition after the government’s undertaking. The court will however continue to hear similar petitions filed by Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd, Utkal Coal Ltd and Jayaswal Neco Industries Ltd on 25 March.

BPSL had approached the high court to challenge the clubbing of different end-uses, namely sponge iron and steel, cement, and captive power plants, within the non-regulated sector.

According to BPSL, the auction process does not distinguish between what is the final use of the captive power plants and allows industries apart from the core sectors of iron, steel and cement, to bid for captive power plants.

As a result, the end use of a coal mine is altered on the basis of who bids the highest. A coal mine that was previously being used to produce captive power for a steel plant can thus be allotted to an aluminium producing company just because the latter is able to bid more, even though aluminium is not a specified end use under the coal ordinance.

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