Lok Sabha passes coal mines bill

It will ensure transparent and honest auction process, says power minister

Lok Sabha passes coal mines bill

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed a Bill that provides for auctioning coal blocks that were deallocated by the Supreme Court, leading to uncertainty in the coal sector.

The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill seeks to replace the two ordinances issued by the government after the Supreme Court cancelled allocation of 204 coal blocks that provided fuel to power plants. The first ordinance was promulgated in October.
The ordinance was re-promulgated in December as the government was unable to get Parliament’s approval during the Winter Session.

On Wednesday, the Bill was opposed by the Left and the BJD by moving a statutory resolution and amendments to the Bill, but were negatived by the Lok Sabha before passing the Bill by a voice vote.

Replying to a debate on the bill, Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal said its passage would ensure “transparent and honest” process of auctioning of coal blocks.
Highlighting the necessity of passing the bill, he warned that if the Bill is not passed, then there could be a crisis in the coal sector with the closure of these mines.

Goyal maintained that all power plants had adequate coal reserves and the e-auction has ensured open bidding and no scope for monopoly. The Minister asserted that adequate safeguards have been put in place to ensure the end-use restrictions and stop hoarding.

Goyal said not even a single coal block was auctioned during the UPA rule, and the NDA government has already started auctioning so that the country gets uninterrupted power supply.

Explaining the rationale behind the ordinances, he said pursuant to Supreme Court cancelling the blocks, mining had stopped and coal output had hit a low.
“Economic activity would have been impacted. It was very essential that the ordinances be brought so that coal production continued,” he said.

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