India's Left opposes coal bill

INDIA’S Left parties and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) are fighting a bill introduced on Wednesday that seeks to replace the coal blocks allocation ordinance and avert a power generation crisis.
India's Left opposes coal bill India's Left opposes coal bill India's Left opposes coal bill India's Left opposes coal bill India's Left opposes coal bill


Anthony Barich

Coal minister Piyush Goyal introduced the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill 2014, insisting that it did not seek coal mines’ de-nationalisation, a charge levelled at the bill by TMC’s Saugata Roy. India’s coal mines were nationalised in 1973, when the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act was passed in parliament.

Goyal said the new bill was introduced in the wake of the September 24 Supreme Court decision cancelling 204 coal blocks which “reset the agenda” of coal block allocation, the Hindu Times reported.

The Left fears the 1973 will bill would be nullified in the process.

The minister said the move was an attempt to avert a power generation crisis which would render hundreds of thousands of workers without jobs, the newspaper said.

Hence the promulgation of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance 2014 in October to facilitate the cancelled coal blocks being auctioned.

“The bill does not seek to de-nationalise coal mines,” Goyal said in response to Roy’s charge.

The Hindu Times said the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill noted that 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 those allotted 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.