Sibal points coalgate finger at BJP

Last Updated: Thu, Sep 13, 2012 03:52 hrs

Lashing out at the Opposition and state governments, Human Resource Development and Telecom Minister, Kapil Sibal, on Wednesday said the methodology of the coal block allocation through non-competitive biding was chosen on insistence from some of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states.

Also, cancelling the allocation would delay the inception of much-needed power plants, erode huge investments and investor confidence, he added.

It takes around eight years for a coal block to be functional and 300 days for environmental clearance, he said.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report named several companies including Essar Power, Hindalco, Tata Steel, Tata Power and Jindal Steel and Power which have got the blocks in various states.

“When we mooted competitive biding, the state government was in agreement that time. It was the state government that executed the lease agreement. Since they executed it, the responsibility lies with them,” Sibal said.

On allocation of a coal block to Jindal Steel and Power Limited, he said the recommendation was made by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Similarly, he cited examples of Vasundhara Raje Scindia’s, former chief minister of Rajasthan, letter to the Centre and Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s letter to the PM Prime Minister on respective blocks in their states.

“I can’t understand why they (BJP) is stalling the Parliament when they were against competitive biding at that time,” said Sibal.

The BJP has been demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and cancellation of non-competitive coal block allocation.

It has also sought President’s intervention over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh questioning the CAG report on coal block allocations.

Also, the accusation of policy paralysis on the UPA II was baseless as it was on account of stalling key reforms by the BJP, he said.

“The criticism against the UPA is that we do not take any decisions and there has been a policy paralysis. We have taken decisions, but the paralysis lies somewhere else. The paralysis lies in not taking the decisions forward, but sitting and stalling Parliament,” said Sibal.

Some of the key reforms in the education sector were on hold, as it was being stalled by the stakeholders, including private institutions, he said.

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