Coal auction was opposed by five states, says minister

August 22nd, 2012 - 7:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has always favoured auctioning coal blocks, but the idea was “strongly protested” by five states then ruled by the opposition, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said here Wednesday.

This was the reason the opposition was “running away” from a debate on the issue, he added.

Of the six coal-bearing states, the states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal, then ruled by the opposition parties, stiffly opposed the move to go for bidding process of coal blocks, Jaiswal said at a press conference.

His statement came after both houses of parliament were adjourned for the second day Wednesday over the opposition’s demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over allocating coal blocks.

The uproar in parliament came following the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report citing losses in coal block allocation.

The CAG said that lack of transparency in allocation of coal blocks to private players resulted in a loss of Rs.1.85 lakh crore ($37 billion) to the exchequer as on March 11 last year.

The coal portfolio was held by the prime minister between July 2004 and May 2009 when the allocations were made.

Jaiswal accused the opposition of running away from a debate.

“They know the reality will come out. All allocations are made with the consent of state governments, and these state governments opposed it,” he said.

“The prime minister cannot be blamed in any way,” he added.

Jaiswal said that of the six coal-bearing states, only Maharashtra was ruled by Congress. The other five states were the ones who opposed the bidding process, he said.

He urged the opposition to “do politics, but not at the cost of running parliament”.

Jaiswal also said there was “a huge conspiracy against the country to tarnish the image of honest people”, and urged the opposition not to become party to this “conspiracy”.

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