The Supreme Court today said it will hear on March 14 the pleas related to a coal block allocation in Chhattisgarh to the Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RRVUNL) and mining operations by Adani Enterprise Limited (AEL).

A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud was told by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for RRVUNL that the extraction of coal is halted and the whole matter is at "standstill" and hence, the case needed to be heard. "We will list it immediately after the Holi vacation on a non-miscellaneous day. We list it on March 14," said the bench which also comprised Justice P S Narasimha and Justice J B Pardiwala.

The state firm had made a statement in October last year before the court that no coal will be extracted before the matter is heard, Rohatgi said, adding that, however, the matter has not been listed for hearing since then. The apexcourt had earlier said that it will hear the pleas on March 2.

Out of three pending pleas, one is a PIL filed by Dinesh Kumar Soni, an activist from Chhattisgarh, seeking cancellation of the coal block allocated in the state to RRVUNL and the mining operations by AEL for allegedly violating the environmental clearance granted by the Environment Ministry. Two other petitions have been filed by RRVUNL and Hasdeo Arand Bachao Sangharsh Samiti respectively.

Earlier on July 15 last year, lawyer Prashant Bhushan had mentioned Soni's PIL for urgent hearing which was considered by a bench headed by the then CJI NV Ramana. Bhushan had said the apex court issued a notice on the PIL in April 2019 and after that, it has not been listed for hearing.

The PIL has sought a CBI probe into the coal block allocation. Soni has also sought direction to RRVUNL to cancel its joint venture and coal mining delivery agreement with AEL and Parsa Kente Collieries Limited (PKCL), a joint venture between RRVUNL and AEL, with the latter being the majority stakeholder.

Challenging the PKCL's shareholding pattern, the PIL said, RRVUNL has 26 per cent stake in the joint venture and Adani 74 per cent. The petition sought the apex court's directions to the Centre to cancel the allocation of the Parsa East and Kanta-Basan (PEKB), Parsa and Kente Extension coal blocks to the RRVUNL.

The mining operations were allegedly violating the conditions of the environmental clearance granted to the RRVUNL by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (now the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate) concerning the PEKB open-cast coal mine project. In June 2007, the PEKB block was allocated to the RRVUNL for Chhabra and other power plants and the RRVUNL chose the AEL as mine developer and operator, it said.

The NGT had quashed the forest clearance for the project in March 2014 as the mine was located in A dense forest and declared a "no-go" area for mining after a joint study by the Ministry of Environment and Forest and the Ministry of Coal.

With PTI Inputs