Maintaining that the most non-transparent procedure was adopted from 1993 to 2010 in the allocation of coal blocks, a Parliamentary Panel has recommended cancellation of allotments wherever production hasn’t begun yet.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Coal and Steel, headed by Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee, slammed the Coal Ministry and observed that the government cannot bestow largesse at its discretion.
In a damning attack on licensing policies of various governments, an overwhelming majority under UPA, the committee, in its 31st report tabled in Parliament, suggested that the decision-making process for distribution of coal blocks be investigated and penal steps taken against those directly or indirectly party to such decision-making.
In all 218 coal blocks were allocated between 1993 to 2010 — 5 under P V Narasimha Rao government, 4 under H D Devegowda, 32 under Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and 175 under Prime Minister Mamohan Singh. “Distribution of coal blocks is the greatest example of betraying public trust by the government,” the panel said. “The natural resources and state largesse were distributed to a few fortunate ones for their own benefit without following any transparent system..It was total abuse of power by the government,” it opined and added that it was unfortunate that neither an auction was held nor did the Central government earn revenue. Kalyan Banerjee termed the distribution of coal blocks unauthorised and illegal.
To a query on losses, he replied, “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 to assess the losses.” The report suggested that the Centre frame a policy to decide in which sectors coal blocks should be allotted to private parties and ensure that PSUs get priority in allotment.