RAIPUR: In a major relief to mineral industries, the Chhattisgarh High Court has stayed the third-party leasing of non-coal mining blocks as per the Mines and Minerals Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 enacted by the Union government.
The court after taking note of the issue in one such mine at Dantewada said that no third-party rights could be created on the given mines till the writ petition was disposed off. Major industries based in Chhattisgarh such as Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL), Jayaswal Neco and others had approached the high court challenging the constitutionality of the Act, which proposes to open up for auction 572 inactive non-coal blocks allocated earlier across the country. The new Amendment was seen as a blow to the industries, which claimed to have made massive investments in the state.
A division bench of Chhattisgarh high court has stayed any fresh auction of such mines till further order.
The petitioners claimed that after securing mining licence years ago, they had planned their investment in difficult areas where the mining operation itself remains challenging.
Senior counsel of the JSPL, Vivek Tankha argued that the Mines and Minerals Development (Amendment) Act 2021 was ultra vires and the ‘Notice Inviting Tender’ issued based on it was also not sustainable.
The court has scheduled the next hearing on the plea of the industries on October 6, 2021. While introducing the Bill in Lok Sabha in March this year, Union Minister of Mines Pralhad Joshi had said that with the removal of the provision of 10A (2) (b) through the amendment, as many as 572 non-coal mining blocks would be brought under auction.