Cancel coal blocks given since 1993: parliament panel

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) All the coal blocks allocated since 1993 were illegal, the licences should be cancelled and those responsible for the allocation should be investigated, Kalyan Banerjee, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on coal, said Tuesday.

“The entire allocation needs investigation. The entire distribution (of coal blocks) was unauthorised. It should be be cancelled,” Banerjee, a Trinamool Congress member of the Lok Sabha, told reporters after the committee’s report was tabled in the lower house Tuesday.

But Banerjee could not quantify the loss in the allocations, saying the “coal ministry did not give us any detail despite repeated requests”.

According to the panel, such allocation of huge natural resources has not generated sufficient revenue for the government but had only benefited private players and resulted in loss to the state governments.

“The commencement of production only from only 30 blocks out of the total allocated 218 puts a question mark on the process,” said the report.

According to the panel, in case of coal blocks allocated for captive use based on wrong information and data about eligibility criteria furnished by the allottees or subsequently sold to the new management, the matter should be enquired into, the licences cancelled and the companies blacklisted.

The panel further said that a strong vigilance mechanism should be put in place to check the nexus between bureaucrats and coal companies in shareholding and profit making.

The panel also did not accept the government view that its screening committee acted in a fair and transparent manner for allocating coal blocks between 2004-2009 as such blocks have failed to start production.

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