Ordinance to take back 214 coal blocks

The government's decision to promulgate ordinance to take back 214 coal blocks previously allocated to various private entities for so called captive use following the Order of Supreme Court quashing such allocation is noted. This judgement was vindication of the stand of the Central Trade Unions and Coal Workers’ Federations opposing the scandalous allocations to private entities. But the government's move to again reallocate most of those coal blocks to private entities through first round e auction is not at all a welcome decision. Also unwelcome is the reported enabling provision in the proposed Ordinance for commercial mining by private entities in future may be through subsequent rounds, as reported by the media. Such enabling provision, if any, will open the door for denationalization of coal sector. CITU condemns the move of the government to nullify the Coal Nationalisation Act.

These 200 plus coal blocks were allotted mostly to private entities during the span of last twenty years or so for mining coal for captive use of which only a small numbers could be made operational, that too, mostly by public sector companies. The incompetence of private entities to explore and produce coal even from the blocks allotted to them stands conclusively proved.

All the workers unions/federations in coal sector, while welcoming the decision of the Supreme Court canceling such scandalous coal block allocation, have already demanded that all those deallocated coal blocks must be vested/returned to Coal India Ltd and cautioned the government to refrain from any move, both direct to tinker and/or tamper into the basic content and spirit of Coal Nationalisation Act 1973. Return of all those coal blocks under Apex Court's order to Coal India Ltd must be the only response by the government in the post-Supreme Court-order-situation which is consistent with the mandate of the Coal Nationalisation Act 1973.

The CITU opposes any move for denationalisation of coal industry and calls upon the workers and the trade union movement to unitedly resist such disastrous move of allowing commercial mining by private entities at the initiation stage itself. The CITU also urges Govt to reconsider it's decision to auction those coal blocks again to private entities and instead vest all of them to Coal India Ltd for exploration and mining. Coal India Ltd should remain the only nodal agency to mine coal and deliver to consumers including industries in national interest and it should be further strengthened consolidated.

A K PADMANABHAN

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