Coal min urges CM to soften stand against commercial mining | Ranchi News

Ranchi: Union coal minister Pralhad Joshi on Thursday met Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren in Ranchi and asked him to see if the the state government could consider softening its stance against auctioning of coal mines to private companies for commercial mining. Accompanied by Union tribal affairs minister and former CM Arjun Munda, Joshi paid Soren a visit at the latter’s office in Project Building and urged the latter to consider revisiting the state’s stance in national interests.
Speaking to journalists before flying back to New Delhi, Joshi said: “I urged him to consider about his government’s stand about the auctioning in national interests and he responded in a positive manner. I also invited him to New Delhi for a discussion, to address his concerns over the process.”
Joshi underscored that commercial mining was necessary for meeting India’s annual coal requirements, of which a major chunk is procured from overseas. Joshi said around 250 million tons of coal are being imported annually to India.
In June this year, the Jharkhand government had moved the Supreme Court challenging the Centre’s attempt to hold an online e-auction of 41 coal blocks nationwide, 20 of which are in the state. In its plea, the state government had termed the auctioning as unilateral and inappropriate citing the current situation of Covid 19 pandemic. It also said that commercial mining will lead to exploitation of forest land and destroy the customs and heritage of the tribal communities here. On July 15, the SC sought a reply from the Center within four weeks.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Soren said: “We clearly explained to him about our reasons to move the SC. I told him that had there been dialogue (between Center and state) before the auctions, then our stand would have been different. From our experiences, we know that mining activities have in the past been a curse for Jharkhand. We want to turn the curse into boon for our state. We are taking legal opinion before charting our future course.”
The state government also made Joshi accept its demand for royalty for transportation of minerals. It also sought compensation to the tune of Rs 8,226 crore from the Center for acquiring 19,594 acre of government land (including forest land) for Coal India’s mining projects acquired between 2009 and 2019. Joshi handed over a cheque of Rs 298 crore to the state revenue department. “The challan was only taken from trucks and the state government suffered because there was no royalty given to us for transportation through railways. It is in place for iron ore, but CIL is the only exception,” Soren said.
Besides royalties and pending compensation, the state also demanded adequate compensations for land acquired under the Coal Bearing Act and royalty on the sale of washed coal. “The discussions were productive. Some of the state’s grievances were resolved on the spot,” Joshi claimed. Joshi also announced Rs 15 lakh ex-gratia for employees of Coal India Limited (CIL) if some one died of Covid 19 infection.

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