Coal block allocation policy 100% correct: Jaiswal
New Delhi: Under attack from BJP on the coal block allocation issue, the government on Tuesday said the policy followed by it in alloting the mines was "100 percent correct" and those who resorted to wrongdoing will go to jail.
Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal accused BJP of having a design in demanding en masse cancellation of coal blocks to actually benefit the private companies and further its political gains at the same time.
Asked about the allocation policy, he said "it was a hundred per cent correct policy. There could not be a better policy than this".
On a day, when CBI registered five cases in connection wih the alleged scam in allocation of coal mines and conducted searches in nearly 30 places across the country, Jaiswal indicated more action was in the offing.
"CBI has conducted the raids...I am not the spokesperson of CBI...We hope there will be more against whom CBI will take action," Jaiswal, who was fielded by Congress to counter the Opposition attack on the issue, said at the AICC briefing.
He was replying to a question regarding the alleged link of Congress MP Vijay Darda with one company against which CBI has registered a case.
"If any one has resorted to such wrongdoing, then not only his coal block allocation will be cancelled but he will be in jail. I can guarantee you," he said when asked about BJP's charge that coal blocks have been allotted to all and sundry including those in hosiery and dairy business.
Asked why the coal blocks allocated long back are yet to produce coal, the minister remarked "mining coal is not like opening a restaurant" and involved lot of processes which take time".
The Coal Minister said if the licenes of coal blocks are cancelled without completing the process of verficiation and even before the report of IMG is out, the private companies could immediately move the court and get relief.
"It is here that we apprehend that BJP is making this demand with a design".
Jaiswal said CBI action against five such companies is an
indication of the government's resolve and "BJP should now be asked how do they respond to CBI'S action".
He said action will be taken against the companies which have given wrong statistics that were verified by the state government and its officials.
"If the companies have not achieved the milestones, then the IMG is there. Whatevers steps IMG suggests, including de-allocation, cancellation of bank guarantee will be taken," he said.
The minister said 26 coal blocks have been de-allocated since the policy came into force in 1993.
Making a stout defence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose resignation is being sought by BJP, the Coal Minister said it was a "100 percent correct policy and there could not be a better policy than this".
Singh was handling Coal Ministry when the allocations had taken place. He said the Prime Minister, being an economist, knew coal was required for energy and steel and to boost infrastructure sector for faster growth.
Noting that most of these coal blocks were allotted on the recommendation of BJP goverments in states, he said he feels BJP is insisting on en masse cancellation of these coal blocks so that the coal companies can eventually get relief from courts while the Opposition party can also meet its political ends.
Hitting out at BJP, he said while it is easy to demand de-allocation or in fact de-allocate the mines what is difficult is to face the consequences of such an action and hence the government wants to study it case by case.
Accusing BJP of telling the country a lie on the issue of coal block allocation during NDA rule, Jaiswal said that contrary to its claim that none of the 32 allocations then was made for any private company, the fact is that 16 coal blocks were allotted to private hands.
Jaiswal claimed UPA government's bid to bring in auction policy got delayed as most of the coal-bearing states were ruled by the Opposition which opposed it.
"Had the policy not been 100 percent correct, why NDA government would have allocated 32 mines"? he said and at the same time maintained it was the "compulsion" of UPA to continue with this policy as the state governments were not in favour of the policy for auction.
To a question whether the Prime Minister had asked the Coal Minister to fix any particular time band for the IMG to give its report, Jaiswal said "I had talked to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister had told me to make it time-bound. The Prime Minister had given me this instruction that it should be done soon and within a timeframe so that it can give its report as soon as possible. He was very sensitive regarding it."
The Coal Minister said the report will come within a frotnight.
Pointed out why his ministry took so much time in framing guidelines for deallocation of mines though it had received a report for the same in August, Jaiswal said his ministry is not in the habit of rushing through with action as it believes that its decisions should be such which cannot be challenged.
Law Minister Salman Khurshid, when asked by journalists
to comment on filing of FIRs in relation to coal block allocations, said blame could not be pinpointed on anyone only on the basis of FIRs.
"FIRs are first information reports based on facts that have been collected by an investigation agency, a very preliminary exercise. It is too early to pinpoint blame on anyone," Khurshid said.