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Munda hauled over the coals

Ranchi, Sept. 6: If Coalgate rocked Parliament today, its echoes could be heard in the state Assembly with the JVM seeking to move an adjournment motion, urging the Speaker to allow a special debate in the House on the issue of block allocations.

Speaker C.P. Singh disallowed the motion, rejecting the demand for a debate, but allowed JVM legislature party leader Pradeep Yadav to read it out in the Assembly.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has said the Centre has lost as much as Rs 1.86 lakh crore from the allocation of 57 coal blocks, which were under test check, to private players without competitive bidding from 2004 to 2009.

As many as 62 coal blocks had been allotted to various private and public sector firms in the state from 2004 to 2009.

Yadav said while 13 private companies were allotted coal blocks during the second chief ministerial tenure of Arjun Munda between 2005-06, 14 more private companies were allocated coal blocks illegally during the tenure of Madhu Koda between 2006 and 2008.

The CBI has already booked Vini Iron Udyog Limited, which has Koda aide Vijay Joshi as a promoter.

Yadav added that state PSU Jharkhand State Mining Development Corporation (JSMDC) was also allotted as many as eight coal blocks in the last decade.

“JSMDC was supposed to develop these coal blocks either on its own or by forming a joint venture in which the government’s stake would not be less than 51 per cent. But, it took a decision in July to develop three blocks — Rabodh, Patratu and Khowatand — in a joint venture with private companies Adhunik Group, Jindal Steel & Power Limited and AMR Coastal. This is a big scam,” the JVM leader alleged.

JSMDC sent the allotment files to Raj Bhavan and the state mines department, but the office of the Governor returned the file, asking for a cabinet decision on the matter.

The chief minister, however, contended that coal was a central subject and several aspects were being discussed in Parliament on the matter. “The Government of India has also assigned the CBI to probe the matter. But we must ensure that royalty and environmental issues are in favour of Jharkhand, a major coal bearing state,” he maintained.


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