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Pension, coal blocks on CM plea list

Ranchi, Dec. 3: Chief minister Arjun Munda will meet President Pranab Mukherjee on December 7 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the next day to discuss the pension arrears dispute with Bihar and de-allocation of coal blocks given to state entities.

Despite the matter pending in the Supreme Court, the Union home ministry had directed Jharkhand to pay a whopping Rs 2,584 crore in pension related liabilities to parent state Bihar.

As far as coal blocks were concerned, as many as five face the axe from the Union coal ministry.

“The chief minister will meet the Prime Minister on December 8 to convey that any decision to cancel the coal blocks allotted to state undertakings would adversely affect the economy of Jharkhand and subsequently frustrate the state government’s efforts at development,” said a source in the CM’s secretariat.

On the matter of pension liabilities, the state government has been maintaining that the distribution should be in accordance to population and not the number of employees as different state reorganisation acts suggest, barring the Bihar State Reorganisation Act 2000.

Notably, on November 26, deputy chief minister Hemant Soren and additional chief secretary A.K. Sarkar had met the Prime Minister as well as Union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on the issue of de-allocation threats to coal mines given to Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corporation.

An inter-ministerial group (IMG) at the Centre recommended de-allocation of Rabodh and Patraru blocks of JSMDC. However, sources in the state government confessed that two more coal blocks of JSMDC, Pindra-Debipur-Khaowat and and Latehar also face the axe while another one given to Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) is also in the line of fire.

Sources had informed while Jaiswal had promised the duo that he would discuss the matter with the Prime Minister, the latter gave no assurances.

State mines department sources said the chief minister is also expected to press for the cause that in future, allocation of coal blocks belonging to Jharkhand shall be made to state entities and entrepreneurs/companies who would add value here.

Additional chief secretary A.K. Sarkar, who heads the mines and geology department, told The Telegraph they were yet to receive any official communiqué from the Centre about de-allocation of blocks, but they have been apprised by different sources that four blocks of JSMDC and one of JSEB are under threat.


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