Millennium Post

Coal India trade unions smell mines’ de-nationalisation plot

'The senior leaders of five CTUs will meet shortly to decide future course of action to combat the menace of gradual de-nationalisation of coal mines besides various other policy related decisions of government of India. 'These has been resorted to arbitrarily without associating or ascertaining the views of one of the most important stake-holders i.e. the coal workers and the CTUs,' S Q Zama, secretary-general, Indian National Mine Workers' Federation said in a letter to Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal.

The e-auction of coal blocks for private companies has been approved through an ordinance promulgated recently. This comes in the backdrop of Supreme Court order quashing 214 coal blocks to companies since 1993. The letter further said that notwithstanding merit/de-merit of the ordinance, the coal workers and the five CTUs of Coal India Limited (CIL) are concerned with the enabling clause to allow commercial mining by private firms in future.

Although government says that CIL's interest will be fully maintained and protected, it is 'absolutely untenable and unacceptable as it amounts to gradual and indirect de-nationalisation of coal mines,' the letter said.

Coal India workers are represented by five unions including Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) and All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had earlier recommended to the President promulgation of ordinance in order to resolve the pending issues particularly the situation arising out of the Supreme Court judgement quashing the allocation of the coal blocks. Following this ordinance, state sector requirements including those of the Central and state governments would be met through government dispensation route and coal mines would be allocated to PSUs like NTPC or state electricity boards.

Government will put sufficient coal blocks on e-auction for the private sector players who are into the cement, steel and power sectors.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had earlier said that that the e-auction process will be 'transparent' and completed in 'three to four months' with proceeds going entirely to the state governments where the mines are located. The biggest beneficiaries would be the eastern states like Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. States like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh would also benefit.
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