Centre warns illegal coal exporters of penal action

Replying to a debate on the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Bills 2010, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told the Lok Sabha: “Nobody has the power to take away even a single gram of coal outside India. They will cool their heels in prison if they try to export the country’s coal wealth.”

Putting the onus of controlling illegal mining on the states, he said: “I am confident that we will be able to curb such activities and since it is a law and order subject, the states will have to resolve the problem,” he said. The bill was later passed by a voice vote.

In the same breath, he apportioned the blame for illegal mining on Opposition-ruled states, saying while Bharatiya Janata Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Janata Dal(United) MPs were expressing concern about it, the problem existed in states ruled by these parties.

“For poverty alleviation and eradication of unemployment, industries are needed, power is needed by these industries and coal is needed to generate power. So coal is the core of government’s plans to uplift common man and remove poverty,” Jaiswal said.

He said the government probe had revealed that contrary to reports that illegal coal export was taking place through Haldia port in West Bengal, the coal was actually being transported to a thermal power plant near the port town.

Earlier, initiating the debate, BJP’s Hansraj Ahir demanded cancellation of allocation of coal blocks to private parties, alleging that they had been sold for low prices though the resource was becoming more scarce.

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