Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi announced on April 8 that he had directed the exclusion of three lignite blocks from the 7th tranche of auction, launched by his Ministry last Wednesday.
The inclusion of the three blocks, East of Sethiathope, Michaelpatti and Vadaseri, of which the first two were protected under the Tamil Nadu Protected Agriculture Zone Development Act, 2020 and the third was a major paddy-growing area, received opposition from all political parties in the State.
Chief Minister M.K. Stalin wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, expressing concern over their inclusion without any communication to the State Government and urging that they be removed from the auction. All political parties, including the BJP, stressed for the exclusion of these blocks through a special call attention motion moved in the Assembly on Wednesday.
Mr. Joshi’s announcement came hours ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to Chennai to flag off the new Vande Bharat express from Chennai to Coimbatore and to launch a number of other projects.
A day after the Chief Minister’s letter to the Prime Minister, Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai, along with the party’s national general secretary and Tamil Nadu in-charge C.T. Ravi, met Mr. Joshi, appealing for the exclusion of the three blocks from auction.
In his tweet announcing the exclusion of the blocks, Mr. Joshi said Mr. Annamalai rushed to call upon him in Bengaluru with the request. ”In [the] spirit of cooperative federalism and keeping in mind [the] interest of people of TN, I have directed to exclude them from auction,” he said. He tagged Mr. Stalin in the tweet. Mr. Annamalai thanked Mr. Modi and Mr. Joshi for considering the request and removing the three blocks from auction.