The Centre on Monday filed its affidavit in the Supreme Court stating various developments taking place since 1992 on coal block identification and allocation to private companies.
In its 24-page affidavit, backed by voluminous records, the Centre contended the Coal India Ltd is the lessee of state governments in respect of the coal mines which were vested Coal Mines Authority after nationalisation of the natural resources in 1973.
It said basic identification exercise of coal blocks is done by the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDIL) but the allocation of blocks for captive mining is done by CIL.
"In the circumstances, it is clear that basic identification exercise was conducted by CMPDIL but a final decision allowing such blocks to be given for captive mining had to be that of CIL since basically the interest of CIL had to be taken into consideration," the affidavit said.
The Centre said 172 blocks came to be identified for captive mining in 1997 which were not proposed to be taken up by CIL. It said total geological reserve available for Coal India is estimated around 123 billion tonnes.
The affidavit was filed to answer the apex court which had on the last hearing questioned the Centre on how coal blocks belonging to CIL were allocated to private companies.
The affidavit also said the government had failed to produce certain documents on the progress of government policy on the coal block allocation to private companies which started in 1993.
"If these coal blocks identified by CIL and Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDIL) are part of the lease hold area of CIL, then how can further right be created in favour of other companies," the apex court had said on the last hearing.
The bench had said the issue is "most vital" for the case and it cannot proceed in the matter without government's clarification on it.
It had also asked the AG to supply all booklets of CMPDIL for identifying coal blocks and how applications from the companies were received by the Centre.
The apex court was hearing final arguments on PILs seeking cancellation of coal blocks allocation.