Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday launched a counter-offensive on the BJP on Coalgate, saying the party should ask its Chief Ministers in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh to quit as “they had executed the lease of coal blocks” under the MMDR Act, 1957.
The Centre had no role to play in the execution of coal block leases, he told journalists here.
Rejecting the BJP’s demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation, Mr. Sibal said Dr. Singh could not make any coal block allotment.
Driving home his point, Mr. Sibal quoted from the April 11, 2005 letter written by the former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje of the BJP that said, “Under Section 5 (1) of the MMDR Act, 1957, the lease itself is granted by the State Government … and the proposed change would take away the State’s prerogative in selection of the lessee.”
On allocation of a coal block to Jindal Steel and Power Limited, he said the recommendation was made by Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Mr. Sibal said that since 1993 as many as 212 coal blocks had been allocated and the Central Bureau of Investigation was probing irregularities in the allotment of five or six of them. “Does it mean the allotment of all 212 blocks should be cancelled?”
Mr. Sibal questioned the calculation financial of loss, incurred in coal blocks allocation, in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. He said the allocation was made only for power, steel and cement industries and was meant only for captive consumption. Electricity generated by the power plants was supplied to the State electricity boards and the tariff was controlled and regulated by the regulatory commissions. “Profit, if any, is on account of the power tariff, and not on coal.”