Countering the Union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal’s comment that coal rich states opposed the bidding for coal block allocations, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday said coal was a subject on which the central government has complete authority.
“Our government has been asking for an auction based system for allocation of mineral resources including coal for the last few years. While the Centre has done it for coal recently, it is yet to do it for other minerals,” Patnaik said.
Patnaik added that he had been demanding for mineral rent recource tax on the super normal profits made by private iron ore mines. “This has been rejected by the Centre on extremely flimsy grounds. This itself shows the attitude of the central government,” he said.
The comptroller and auditor general (CAG) report earlier this week said the government lost as much as Rs. 1.86 lakh crore from allocation of 57 coal blocks to private players without competitive bidding.
While the central government, especially Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is under fire from the opposition for the “coal gate scam”, on Wednesday Jaiswal said the prime minister could not be held responsible on the issue of coal block allocations as five coal rich states – Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Rajasthan – strongly opposed the idea of coal block allocation through bidding route.
All the five states are being ruled by non-Congress parties.