Claiming that nothing was amiss in coal blocks allocation, Union Power Minister Veerappa Moily assailed the BJP for stalling Parliament on the issue.
“Coal block allocation was done in consultation with the Chief Ministers. There is no scandal and the BJP is unnecessarily raking up the issue,” he told journalists during his visit to Assam and Meghalaya to review the power situation there.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a person of [the] highest integrity and he is a reformer and the BJP has done wrong by raising doubts about his honesty.” Mr. Moily warned that de-allocation of coal blocks could retard power production which would lead to lower GDP growth.
Coal blocks were allocated to the private sector after taking into consideration its “massive” contribution in power generation and after a process of competitive bidding, he said. Any action now could affect the economy. “The ratio of power to GDP growth of a country is 1:1.5. If you want 9 per cent GDP growth, you ought to produce 8 per cent of power and if you aspire for 10 per cent GDP growth, your power production should be at 9 per cent.”
Mr. Moily warned that the Opposition move to “sabotage” the development plan could set the country’s growth back by decades. “We spent 60 years to be able to grow at 9 per cent annually. Maybe we would need another 80 years to come back if this kind of sabotage develops,” he told reporters in Shillong.
Slamming the BJP, he said it “will face the music like they did in 1982 by winning only two Parliament seats. If they cannot be responsible as a constructive Opposition, they have no business to be in power again.”
On the private sector contribution to power production, he said it went up from a mere 20 per cent during the 10th Plan period to a “massive 55 per cent” by the end of the 11th Plan. The 54,000 MW produced during the 11th Plan was comparable to the generation of the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Plans put together. “During this time, the capacity of State sectors has come down to 17 per cent and the central sector to 24 per cent.”
Mr. Moily projected a production of 88,000 MW during the 12th Plan, but warned that it could come down to a mere 20 per cent of 30,000 MW if coal blocks were de-allocated. He termed “argumentativeness prevailing in a noisy democracy” Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s ultimatum to the UPA government to withdraw its decisions on diesel price hike, a cap on LPG supply and allowing FDI in multibrand retail. “One thing we should not forget, the argumentative India we all live in ... a noisy democracy, but ultimately we [UPA] will survive everything.”
Would the Congress succumb to Ms. Banjerjee’s tactics? Mr. Moily replied: “It is not a question of succumbing to this and that, but we are living with our democracy.”