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Have no say on naxalism; will target mafia: Coal Minister

Pained that India`s rich coal belt was roiled by naxalism and mafia, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal today said he had no say on tackling naxalism, but vowed to eliminate mafia.



New Delhi: Pained that India`s rich coal belt
was roiled by naxalism and mafia, Coal Minister Sriprakash
Jaiswal today said he had no say on tackling naxalism, but
vowed to eliminate mafia.

"Unfortunately, the coal producing areas are affected by
twin problems of naxalism and mafia. Naxal problem is not in
my domain. So, I cannot do anything about it. But, I will
focus on the other problem. I want to end the mafia (raj)," he
told agency.
Mafia, pilferage and theft are eating into productivity
and profitability of the coal companies at the cost of the
nation, the minister said, adding that eliminating these were
his top priority in the second term of UPA-II -- which has
completed one year in office.

"I can`t say... when I will be able to bring normalcy in
the sector" he said pointing out that the sector has been
besieged by the evil of crime and mafia for over three
decades.

"I will take time to cleanse the system... I don`t know
how much time it will take... I will do everything to weed the
evil out," he said when asked about the impediments created
due to a nexus between mafia, officials and politicians.
Majority of the coal producing belt in the country is
dominated by mafia operations, according to trade unions in
the coal sector.

"At least 10,000 mafia groups operate in the country
mostly concentrating in Coal India Ltd collieries and the
annual plunder is not less than 5-6 million tonnes causing
huge loss to the state exchequer," former MP and trade union
leader Jibon Roy said.

India is home to cumulative coal reserves of 267 billion
tonnes, the largest in the world, and the fossil fuel accounts
for 55 per cent of the country`s energy needs.

Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa are the
main coal producing states and also happen to be
naxal-infested states.

Roy who had been a member of the Standing Committee on
Coal and, at present, is the CITU General Secretary alleged
the nexus included that of executive from the coal companies,
bureaucrats, police and criminals.
Mafia operations are more rampant in CIL subsidiaries
like Central Coalfields Ltd, Bharat Coking Coal Ltd, Eastern
Coalfields Ltd and SCEL, he said pointing out that the coal
mafia virtually ran a parallel administration there.

State-owned CIL, which accounts for over 80 per cent of
the domestic coal production through its seven subsidiaries,
marginally missed its output target of 435 million tonnes in
2009-10.

The issue of coal pilferage is also being probed by the
Central Bureau of Investigation and other agencies.

The CBI has conducted a nationwide special drive against
large-scale pilferage and irregularities in public sector coal
companies from January 18 to January 25 and unearthed
misappropriation and loss to the tune of over Rs 10 crore to
various public sector coal companies.

Besides cleansing the mafia, Jaiswal said his ministry`s
priority will be to bring out more reforms in the sector.

"Apart from Coal India`s proposed disinvestment, we are
going to shortly appoint a Coal Regulator to monitor various
issues including pricing of coal. Also, we are working to
introduce competitive bidding for allocation of coal blocks
for captive use," Jaiswal said.

The government is in the process of divesting 10 per cent
stake in `Navratna` CIL in the current fiscal, expecting to
raise up to Rs 12,000 crore.

PTI

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