States would have to take strong initiatives to curb illegal coal mining, union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said on Wednesday.
Practically putting the onus on state governments to control the menace, Jaiswal called on the state for its support in controlling illegal mining.
“Illegal mining should be checked by the states themselves. States have a major role to play in this regard as law and order is a state subject and police is controlled by the state governments,” Jaiswal said.
Incidents of illegal coal mining in Bengal have been frequently reported in the coalrich areas of Asansol, Raniganj and Jamuria.
Clashes between the coal mafia over control of mines have left many dead over the years. There have also been instances of the land caving in due to illegal mining. Hundreds of villages in these areas face the risk of caving in at any moment.
However, the minister ducked questions of alleged favouritism towards Western Coalfields chairman and managing director DC Garg, against whom there are allegations of corruption. Western Coalfields is a subsidiary of Coal India and Jaiswal had reportedly sat on successive requests by the CBI to prosecute him.
There are also allegations that Jaiswal had given a green signal for five extensions to Garg.
“I cannot comment on the issue since the CBI is probing the matter under the supreme court’s monitoring. But no one in my ministry gets any undue advantage,” Jaiswal remarked.
Jaiswal also refuted the CAG report that Coal India is operating a number of mines without environmental clearance. He said environmental and forest clearance is mandatory for any coal mining activity.