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No modification needed in Bill for coal auction: Panel

No modification needed in Bill for coal auction: Panel
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"The Committee recommends enactment of the legislation without any modification," the 19-member Select Committee to examine the Coal Mines (Special Provision) Bill, 2015, headed by Anil Madhav Dave (BJP) said in its report tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

The panel referred passage of the Bill without any change.

The Bill that seek to replace the Ordinance issued by the government was passed by Lok Sabha but had to be referred to the Rajya Sabha Select Committee.

The dissenting notes come from Digvijaya Singh, P Bhattacharya and Rajeev Shukla (all Cong), Tiruchi Siva (DMK) and K N Balagopal (CPI-M).

"With a deep sense of disappointment, I am submitting my dissent note... Despite unanimity on the issue of labour dues forest rights of the tribals and forest dwellers and environment clearance and inherent rights of the state in the constitution, the Select Committee has failed to accept the suggested amendments to the Bill," a dissent note from Singh said.

Terming as "inadequate" the 7 days' time to the Committee for examining the "Bill with such far reaching implications", Singh said the panel "could not hear the stakeholders whose lives would be impacted...which is fundamental duty of the Select Committee".

He said the panel did not take views of state governments and Ministries like Labour, Forest and Environment, Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj.

He demanded that a proviso be added "to optimise the value of the coal block, Forest and Environment Ministry clearances should be obtained by Central and state Government".

Also the note contained that "the state government must certify that all the rights under the Forest Rights Act have been settled before the auction of the coal blocks."

He also suggested including provisions like that the company "may carry on coal mining operations in India in any form for own consumption only for specified end use and not for any other purpose, with the prospecting license or mining lease, as the case may be".

Pradip Bhattacharya echoed Singh on inadequate time given to the Committee.

"The entire proceeding of the Select Committee has been vitiated, because neither the members of the said Committee could apply their proper mind nor the major stakeholders could participate in the deliberations in a befitting manner and as such the report has been prepared in a perfunctory manner," he said.

Stating that no provision has been made in the Bill for any amount of money out of auction proceeds to be utilised for tribal welfare, he also said that "the statutory rights of the tribal people to live in forest area/or to use the forest material have not been explicitly guaranteed in this bill".

Shukla too expressed concerns in his dissent note over not taking the views of various stakeholders.

He said: "The argument by Chairman, Select Committee that the issues of Labour and the Consumers would be addressed in the rules, infringes on the right of the Committee on Subordinate Legislation which the Select Committee is not empowered."

DMK MP Siva said the views and suggestions made by certain members in the panel to make suitable amendments by including "the labour dues to a part of the definition of 'secured creditors' to protect the rights of the labours working in the mines who will lose their jobs after the new method of allocation", the rights of the states where the mines are situated and the "need for an independent regulator", have not been considered.

Balagopal of CPI-M said the enactment cannot stand in the way of reaching a logical conclusion through established avenues including the judiciary in respect of pending cases by aggrieved populations in the mining areas.
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