New Delhi, Dec 10: A bill seeking to replace the coal blocks allocation ordinance that unveiled the NDA government's ambitious coal sector reforms was introduced in the Lok Sabha today, amid strong objections from TMC and Left parties.
The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill 2014 was introduced by Coal Minister Piyush Goyal, who insisted that the bill did not seek de-nationalisation of coal mines. The bill was opposed at the admission stage itself by Saugata Roy (TMC) who said it was aimed at de-nationalisation of coal mines, which were nationalised way back in 1973. Supported by the Left parties, he said the legislation nullified the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act of 1973 and allowed "total exploitation" of the mines and the people of the country.
The Minister said the bill had been brought in the wake of the Supreme Court decision cancelling 204 coal blocks on September 24 and resetting the agenda of coal block allocation, cancelling the allocation of these blocks. He said the step was taken by the government to avert a crisis in power generation and rendering lakhs of workers jobless. Thousands of crores of bank funds would also have turned into "stressed assets" or NPAs. Therefore, the government promulgated Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 2014 in October to facilitate auctioning of the cancelled coal blocks.
"The bill does not seek to de-nationalise coal mines," Goyal said in response to the charge made by Roy and Left members. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill said it provided for allocation of coal mines and vesting of the right, title and interest in and over the land and mine infrastructure, together with mining leases, to successful bidders and allottees through a transparent bidding process. This will ensure continuity in coal mining operations and production of coal. The bill prescribes the conditions to rationalise the coal sector for mining operations, consumption and sale, it said.