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Jaiswal blames govt for Jharia delay

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  • Published 19.04.12

Dhanbad/Bokaro, April 18: Union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal today held the state government responsible for the delay in relocation of people from fire-affected areas in Jharia, arguing the Centre had poured sufficient funds into the rehabilitation plan.

“The Union government can offer money, technical expertise and even lay out a plan on how to put out the raging fire in Jharia, but the work has to be done by the state government. The Centre cannot be blamed,” Jaiswal told The Telegraph at the Bokaro aerodrome en route to Dhanbad.

After arriving in Dhanbad, where he held a meeting with the Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) top brass at Koyla Bhavan, the minister said a separate entity (Jharia Rehabilitation Development Authority) had been formed at the request of the state government over five years ago.

“The central government cannot carry out rehabilitation of the people on its own,” Jaiswal thundered, charging the JRDA and the state government of failing to relocate families, whose members were not employed with BCCL.

Since rehabilitation began as a pilot project in March 2010, 1,040 families have been shifted to flats in Belgarhia until last year. Around 50,000 families are yet to be rehabilitated, with delays caused by deadlocks over acquisition of land and pending construction of flats.

BCCL chairman and managing director T.K. Lahiri, who was accompanying Jaiswal, said the minister had taken an initiative for making changes to the provisions in the Jharia action plan and ensure bigger flats to the fire-affected families who had encroached on land in Jharia.

As against single-bedroom flats with a carpet area of 18sqm proposed earlier, the families are now liable to get 25sqm two-bedroom quarters.

Meanwhile, Jaiswal put the onus for containing the Naxalite problem in coal-rich areas on state governments.

“Naxalite problem is common in coal-bearing areas of the country and law and order being a state subject the state governments should play a greater role in solving the problem,” said Jaiswal.

On the performance of BCCL, he expressed satisfaction but added, “The need of the hour is to take up the challenge of pulling BCCL out of the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction.” Jaiswal hoped that if production continued to be high, BCCL would achieve the target within six months.

He also denied any discrepancies in allocation of coal blocks, adding that UPA-II was merely engaged in reviewing them. Since 1905, the Centre has allocated 206 coal blocks altogether. The UPA government has issued notices to the owners of 58 abandoned coal blocks and cancelled allocation of 26 blocks.

Earlier in Bokaro, Jaiswal promised that the Jharkhand government would be entitled to higher royalties with every instance of hike in coal prices.