Lok Sabha today passed the Coal Mines bill to allow e-auction of coal blocks after the Supreme Court cancelled their allocation leading to uncertainty in the coal sector, amid opposition by Left and some other parties.
The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2015, would replace two ordinances issued by the government — the first on October 21 last year and the other in December, after the apex court cancelled the allocation of 204 blocks.
Replying to a debate on the bill, Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal said its passage would ensure “transparent and honest” process of auctioning of coal blocks.
Highlighting the necessity of passing the bill, he warned that if the Bill is not passed, then there could be a crisis in the coal sector with the closure of these mines.
Goyal maintained that all power plants had adequate coal reserves and the e-auction has ensured open bidding and no monopoly in the process. The bill was passed by a voice vote after the House voted out amendments moved by opposition members. While some of the amendments were disapproved by voice vote, CPI(M) member Badruddoza Khan’s amendments were voted out after a division
sought by him.
Earlier, the Minister asserted that adequate safeguards have been put in place to ensure the end-use restrictions and stop hoarding.
Goyal said not even a single coal block was auctioned during the UPA’s 10-year rule, and the NDA government has already started auctioning the blocks so that the country gets uninterrupted power supply.
“Even after so many years of independence, 30 crore people do not have access to electricity,” he said, adding that a technical copmmittee has decided on which block to be auctioned to which sector.
The Bill provides for allocation of coal mines and vesting of the right, title and interest in and over the land and mine infrastructure together with mining leases to successful bidders and allottes through a transparent bidding process.
The coal blocks are now being allocated in line with the provisions of the ordinances and rules made under them and the auction of these blocks were being carried out through an e-auction process to transparency of the process.