India’s Supreme Court revises judgment on illegal coal blocks

India’s Supreme Court revises judgment on illegal coal blocks

India's Supreme Court revised Tuesday its August decision to declare illegal all coal mining licences granted between 1993 and 2010, but said it wouldn’t announce its verdict on the matter until an unspecified later date.

The government, reports Economic Times, had requested the court to exempt nearly 40 coal blocks that have either started production or are near it. They are estimated to have a capacity of about 9% of the 566 million tonnes India produced last year.

The award of more than 200 coal blocks to steel, cement and power companies has been at the centre of the so-called "Coalgate" scandal, estimated in a 2012 audit report to have cost as much as $33 billion.

In the past twenty years India has granted coal blocks to a range of companies in sectors such as power and steelmaking, partly to overcome fuel shortages stemming from its inefficient and state-dominated mining sector.

India is suffering from an acute shortage of coal, which fuels about three-fifths of its power needs.