Stating that mass cancellation of coal blocks will adversely hit the business sentiment, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) President Adi Godrej, on Wednesday, said the government should take strong action against those who had acquired coal blocks by misrepresenting facts.

Mr. Godrej said that several reasons contributed to the failure of certain companies to start work on the coal blocks and listed reasons such as delay in environment clearances and problems related to land acquisition and law and order. “The law should take its own course and no precipitate action should be taken. The coal blocks, which were allocated as per due process, should not be cancelled. Any such cancellation will adversely impact business sentiment,” Mr. Godrej told reporters here.

However, the CII President said that any coal block allocation where it was established that due process had not been followed should be reviewed and appropriate action taken in accordance with law. He said that before taking any action, the government should keep in mind the fact that almost 40 per cent of the revenue from coal mining went to it as taxes and royalties. “There are several issues which lead to delays in the start of production in coal blocks. These are related to environment clearances and security issues and lack of supporting infrastructure, especially in the case of blocks in remote areas,” he said. Mr. Godrej asked the government to address these gaps in a time-bound manner and also through single-window mechanism. He stressed the need for taking urgent steps in areas such as taxation and foreign direct investment (FDI). “For various reasons, decision-taking process in the government is slow. If we do not take the reform programme agenda forward, we might get into further difficulties in terms of rating agencies, perception and investors shying away,” he said.

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