Coal India -Rs 53,331 crores penalty to be charged

Coal India

Coal India’s five subsidiaries are facing Rs 53,331 crore of penalties slapped by states as at least 60 of their mines exceeded production limits set by environmental authorities, the state-run company’s auditor has noted in its annual report.

The company has included the figure in its annual report for 2018-19 under the head ‘contingent liability’, meaning it is a potential liability and may have to be paid depending on the outcome of each of these cases.

If Coal India needs to pay the levies, its finances will be critically hit. Its reserves, which stood at Rs 38,000 crore as on April 1, will fall short by Rs 15,000 crore.

Although the demand notices were sent to Coal India subsidiaries in the last two years, Coal India executives are not perturbed since they believe that the levies/penalties relate to a period when environment clearances used to be delayed by several months. Relevant authorities have issued temporary stay orders for some of these penal levies while others are being challenged.

The company’s annual report said district mining officers of Jharkhand raised a demand of Rs 13,389.38 crore for mining over the environmental clearances limit in 41 mines of Central Coalfields. The company filed a revision petition before the Coal Tribunal under the coal ministry. It has stayed execution of the penalty in an interim order.

In case of South Eastern Coalfields, a penalty of Rs 10,129.31 crore in respect of 13 mines for illegal mining was imposed by the Chhattisgarh government last year. Appeals by the company before the competent authority are under process. Bharat Coking Coal received a demand notice of Rs 17,344.46 crore concerning 47 mines from the Jharkhand government for producing coal without environmental clearance and/or forest clearances.