Arjun Munda arrives at the Assembly to attend the first day of the winter session on Friday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Nov. 30: Chief minister Arjun Munda today expressed unwillingness to “intervene directly” in the economic crisis faced by Panem due to the blockade led by JVM supremo Babulal Marandi in Pakur.
However, the mines and geology and commercial taxes departments have agreed to send their officials to Amrapara in Pakur to probe JVM’s allegations against Panem Coal Mines Limited, even as Munda insists on the district administration taking steps to arrive at a solution.
The JVM chief, along with Congress’s Stephen Marandi, has been sitting on a dharna near the company’s office in Amrapara for the last 15 days.
They have been demanding a tripartite agreement between the government, Panem and Raj Mahal Pahar Bachao Andolan Samiti to complete welfare projects promised by the firm within a time frame.
The JVM has also launched an economic blockade in Santhal Pargana for over one week, stopping transporting of coal by Panem to Punjab, which in turn has led to a power crisis in the northern state.
Munda today maintained that he would not succumb to JVM’s pressure tactics.
Instead of sending emissaries to Amrapara, he wants the agitators to talk to the Pakur district administration.
“In fact, the Pakur district administration is already doing its job. The JVM’s concern for rehabilitation of families displaced by Panem coalfields, too, is appreciable. But, its obstinacy to compel the government to surpass the local administration is not acceptable,” he told The Telegraph.
The commercial taxes and mines and geology departments agreed to send senior officials to Amrapara to probe reported evasion of taxes and royalty by Panem. This decision was taken after a delegation led by JVM principal general secretary Pradeep Yadav today met the secretaries of the departments and furnished documents to prove their point against Panem — a joint venture of the Punjab State Electricity Board and EMTA Group.
“After going through documents I have sent an officer to Pakur for an enquiry. Appropriate actions will be taken after he submits a report,” said mines and geology department’s additional chief secretary A.K. Sarkar.
Incidentally, the chief minister heads the mines and geology department. The commercial taxes department is helmed by deputy Hemant Soren.
The JVM has been demanding that EMTA chief Ujjwal Upadhyay and a senior representative of the government visit Amrapara and spell out when the MoU for the rehabilitation of the displaced, inked in 2006, would be executed.
In contrast to his hands-off stance over Panem, the chief minister vehemently opposed de-allocation of coal blocks to NTPC for the North Karnpura project and demanded that the Centre provide necessary assistance early to make the power plant functional.