The mechanism to allot coal blocks was as transparent as could be, insists Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal during 'Teekhi Baat' with The New Indian Express Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla on IBN7.
Q: You seem to be sad these days?
A: I seem to be more at peace these days.
Q: It feels good to be working in a democracy...?
Q: Your party’s way is of stating ‘no loss’ in every issue. If something wrong has happened, how can there be ‘no loss’?
A: I have never said ‘no loss’.
Q: One of your party ministers said ‘no loss’. He did not say ‘zero loss, he said no loss’. Comment?
A: He said later that the media has published it wrongly.
Q: You mean there is no loss as of today?
A: How will you calculate any loss as of today? When mining has started only in one coal block out of 57, then how will you calculate loss? Coal mining is a complicated business.
Q: But what about the companies who were allotted mines which they later sold and made money on?
A: A CBI enquiry is on. If anybody has violated rules or law, action will be taken against them.
Q: Those who sold off their blocks to others made crores but the government did not get a single paisa despite having let go of precious natural resources?
A: The question is not whether they made money or not. If the law permits, they can do it. But the truth is one-odd company was running at a loss, and was not in a position to mine, so it transferred it to some other company.
Q: They did it in Jharkhand. Not one, there are seven-eight companies which have sold off their allocated coal blocks to others.
A: Those discrepancies are being looked into; an enquiry will be conducted. If those who won coal blocks have violated rules, then they will go behind bars.
Q: Don’t you find it wrong that the mines were given away free of cost?
A: We have not given away mines for free; we have given mines for capacity addition in the country to increase the production of power and steel. Today, there is no alternative other than coal.
Q: There should be some system in place for the same, some qualification criteria. There are reports that rubber and saree manufacturers have been given coal mines. There are many companies who have no prior experience in mining sector. Comment.
A: The mechanism for handing out blocks was such that the Coal Secretary headed the screening committee, secretaries of allied ministries were members, chief secretaries of the all states concerned were members. Can a more transparent committee than this be put in place?
Q: So you are saying that all wrongs were the work of babus?
A: If babus have done wrong, they will be in jail. If companies have done wrong, then the officers concerned will be in jail.
Q: And if the minister has approved, will he be in jail or not?
A: The job of the minister is to frame policy and to develop a right mechanism for its implementation. After that, does a minister go to enquire about the company or a coal block?
Q: Do you mean to say the minister is not at fault?
A: It is the minister’s fault if the policy has been framed wrongly. If the committee to implement the policy has been formed wrongly, then the minister is at fault. But if the minister appoints the coal secretary, the secretaries of allied ministries and the chief secretaries of states, then what is the minister’s fault?
Q: What about the demand for the resignation of anybody against whom a CAG report has been tabled?
A: The resignation should be demanded first from those three chief ministers; after that they should demand the Prime Minister’s resignation. They have no moral authority to demand any such thing.