Maintaining that a most non-transparent procedure was adopted from 1993 to 2010 for allocation and supply of coal blocks, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Coal and Steel has recommended the cancellation of all allotted coal blocks which have not started production.
The panel, headed by Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee, came out strongly against the Coal Ministry and observed that the government cannot give a largesse based on its arbitrary discretion or sweet will.
The committee, in its 31st report tabled in Parliament on Monday, suggested that the entire decision-making process for distribution of coal blocks needs investigation and necessary penal steps be taken against all those who were directly or indirectly party to such decision-making.
“The natural resources and state largesse which were distributed to a few for their own benefit, without following any transparent system, is a total abuse of power by the government,” the committee observed.
The panel said “It was unfortunate that neither any auction was held nor the Central government earned any revenue by allocating coal blocks.”
Banerjee said that distribution of coal blocks was done in a most unauthorised manner.
To a query on the quantum of losses, Banerjee said, “Despite our repeated queries, the Coal Ministry could not give us information in respect of quantity of coal or its value. We are not an investigating agency and thus not in a position to assess the losses.”
“The committee was unable to accept the government’s contention that the screening committee acted in a fair and transparent manner for allocating coal blocks during 2004-2009,” the report said.
The committee said the companies approved by the screening committee have failed to start production so far which raises apprehension that they were considered without taking into account the techno-economic feasibility of the end use projects, past track record of the developers in execution of projects and their technical and financial capabilities.
The committee recommended the government to re-examine and comprehensively review all the coal block allocations approved by the screening committee.
“Though the screening committee to identify and approve the companies for coal block allocation was headed by the Secretary (Coal), the Inter-Ministerial Group constituted to review the allocations and recommend de-allocation of coal blocks is headed by the Additional Secretary (Coal),” the committee noted. The committee has asked the Coal Ministry to examine the legality of implementation of recommendation for cancellation of coal blocks by the Inter-Ministerial group as it was not headed by a Secretary-level officer.
The panel also suggested that the Centre should frame a policy for which sectors of coal block should be allotted to private parties.