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Mining profits to fund welfare

Ranchi, June 12: One per cent of the profit earned by each mining project will henceforth be used for the development of villages within a radius of 10 km of the project, Union coal minister Sibu Soren announced today.

The decision, he explained here, will raise the community development kitty of Coal India Limited alone from the current level of Rs 10 crore to Rs 250 crore every year. “This is necessary because if Coal India excavates coal from the area, it should also contribute to the betterment of the people in the coal-bearing area,” he said.

Steps are being taken to supply coal legally to the villagers in the coal-bearing area to meet their needs for fuel, he informed. This, he hoped, would help check illegal mining. CIL is also in the process of setting up a new subsidiary company for the Rajmahal coalmines.

On the controversy created by his statement that the CIL headquarters would be shifted from Calcutta to Ranchi, Soren declared this would not take place “overnight” and the decision would not be taken in a hurry.

He, however, appeared to be firm on the demand and added that while all concerned parties will be consulted, the CIL headquarters will be shifted all right and “shifted in phases”.

Speaking to newsmen later at Ramgarh, on his way to Bokaro, the minister once again declared that shifting the CIL headquarters would be in the interest of the people of Jharkhand. He was hopeful, he said, of resolving the issue after talking to the constituents of the United Progressive Alliance and the Left front.

The UPA government being both farmer-and-worker-friendly, Soren hoped, the two sections of the people would also cooperate with the government.

He also exuded confidence over the selection of a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha nominee for the Rajya Sabha. Brushing aside reports of a simmering resentment in the JMM rank and file, Soren said a final decision will be taken at a meeting in the state capital on Monday. “There is no conflict over the issue and there is nothing to worry about.”

Several JMM leaders are said to be upset over Soren’s alleged preference for the party’s national spokesman, Muktinath Upadhyay, as the party’s nominee. Soren today said: “Everyone cannot get what they want. Several factors will have to be taken into account, including commitments made at the national level.”

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