RANCHI: The Union Minister of State for Coal, Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal on Sunday held state governments responsible for enhancing illegal mining and coal theft in their respective areas.
Addressing a news conference here after a review meeting of Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited, Mr Jaiswal said the Centre had to rely on state governments to check these problems as it lacked specific machinery.
“The ministry can only identify and apprise the state governments concerned of the problem and it is upto them to find out the remedies,” he added.
“We inform the state government and their officials about the law and order problems of their areas on regular basis but they hardly take any action,” he said.
Mentioning about the steps taken by the Union government, Mr Jaiswal said more than a dozen raids were conducted by the CBI in connection with corruption cases involving coal industry people in past one year.
Referring to coal distribution policy implemented in 2007, he said about eight million tonnes of coal had been earmarked for the state governments, but they fail to lift their allocations.
“According to our data, only three milllion tonnes of coal was so far being lifted by the state governments,” he added.
Briefing about the review meeting of Central Coal Fields Limited and CMPDI, he said the latter was near to its target, while the former had several law and order problems in its respective areas.
“I will meet Governor MOH Farooq in this regard and try to find out a solution,” he added.
He would also visit Dhanbad to participate in the review meeting of BCCL.
The Coal India Limited Chairman, Mr P S Bhattacharya alleged that a lack of cooperation from the state governments has resulted in the illegal reopening of mines abandoned by the coal companies.
“Abandoned mines are being reopened illegally despite they being filled-up by the coal companies. To stop this, there is a need for coordination between the state governments and the coal companies. (But) we are not getting full cooperation from them,” Mr Bhattacharya told reporters here.
The Jharkhand government had alleged that the coal companies were leaving their abandoned coal mines exposing them to illegal mining and accidents.
Describing the problem of illegal mining as a socioeconomic one, Mr Bhattacharya said the CIL had funded a study initiated by the Jharkhand government through XLRI and Indian School of Mines.
“The study report has been submitted to us with some constructive suggestions. But a wider debate is needed as the livelihood of a large number of people is involved. It (the issue) should be handled properly,” opined Mr Bhattacharya.
According to government reports, several unreported accidents occur every year in abandoned mines during illegal digging of coal.
Mr Bhattacharya also called upon the states to lift their quota of coal to supply small consumers.
“A total of eight MT of coal has been earmarked to provide coal. The states have been told to set up one or more nodal agency to lift their (allotted) quota. But some states are participating in lifting the quota,” he said and added the quota could be increased if necessary.
“Even Jharkhand is not lifting its quota,” alleged the CIL top functionary.