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Coal & Mines Bills: Govt gets its RS math right

Coal & Mines Bills: Govt gets its RS math right
The government on Friday finally managed to isolate principal Opposition Congress and had its way in the Rajya Sabha. The crucial Mines and Minerals Bill and the Coal Mines Bill were passed by the Rajya Sabha on Friday, after the government managed to get support from almost opposition parties including TMC. The only group to oppose the bill other than the Congress were the Left parties.

The crucial Bills were supported not only by the TMC but also by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Samajwadi Party (SP) and AIADMK. The Coal Bill was passed by a division vote, in which 107 voted in support, while 69 were against it. The opposition Congress and the Left voted against the bill while the Janata Dal-United and the Rashtriya Janata Dal abstained.

The Coal Bill opens the sector for commercial mining and aims to facilitate the auction of over 200 cancelled coal blocks. The auction of the coal mines had led to a huge scandal during the UPA regime in which former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also being summoned by the court as “an accused”.

While speaking to the media persons outside the parliament, union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “This is an important day for democracy, Parliament and the Indian economy as the politics of obstructionism of the Congress has been defeated.” Claiming that there will be a concrete arrangement of computerised auction of coal and mineral blocks, he said, “All the money collected in national treasury through the auction of coal and minerals will be given to the coal and mineral-bearing states.”

Meanwhile, even though opposition parties including Congress and Left Front demanded a re-look by the select committee, the Mining Bill was also passed in the Upper Sabha. The Bill was thought for the development of mines and minerals, to bring a regime of auctioning blocks for prospecting.

The bill was first put for voting in the Rajya Sabha after debate and 117 members were in its favour and 69 against it, but not before Steel Minister Narendra Singh Tomar moved two amendments, based on the suggestions of select committee.
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