Ranchi, Sept. 13: Chief minister Hemant Soren today urged Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh to initiate talks with the Centre for clearing Rs 10,000 crore that Coal India Limited (CIL) owes to Jharkhand as land lease rent for the past four decades.
During a meeting with Ramesh and CIL chairman S. Narsing Rao at Project Building, Hemant also warned of a “tough stance” in the coming days if the Centre did not pay heed to the state’s demand and initiate steps to release the dues at the earliest.
“The lease rent dues are around Rs 3,000 crore, and factoring in the interests, the amount goes up to Rs 10,000 crore. The state needs the money to carry out development work,” the chief minister told mediapersons after his meeting with Ramesh and Rao.
Ramesh, who had earlier chaired a separate meeting with other CIL officials and chief secretary R.S. Sharma, did not talk to reporters as he had to fly back to Delhi in the afternoon.
After the nationalisation of coal mines, the PSU had taken 24,000 acres of government land on 30-year lease, which ended in 2002, but it hasn’t paid a penny to the state till date.
Though the lease was not renewed, mining activities are continuing on those tracts of land under “temporary arrangements”.
During the meeting, the chief minister and chief secretary Sharma also raised the issue of large-scale pollution caused by coal washeries set up on the banks of Damodar River.
“These washeries have been poisoning the Damodar water. We have asked the PSU to take some urgent steps to minimise contamination of the river,” Hemant said.
The issue of land reclamation in areas, where mining activities are over, also came up during the meeting.
“As per law, Coal India has to fill up exhausted mines and give them back so that the plots could be used productively. But, the PSU is not following the norms. We have asked for a report on this issue in two months,” the chief minister said.
State finance minister Rajendra Prasad Singh and social welfare minister Annapurna Devi, other senior government officials and CIL officials, were present during the meeting. Representatives of other PSUs, like National Thermal Power Corporation and Steel Authority of India Limited, were also there.
During the meeting, the chief minister demanded that all third and fourth grade posts in PSUs in Jharkhand be filled by local residents only. At present, recruitment to these posts are done through open competitions at the national level.
The CIL reiterated its promise to set up a medical college in Ranchi, even as government officials said the mining major had not invested enough for the development of the state.
Notably, CIL subsidiary Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) promised a medical college here around two years ago, but nothing concrete has been done in this regard.
Also, NTPC announced a power management institute in Hazaribagh, where the power major is eyeing many coal mining projects — North Karanpura and Chhati-Bariyatu.