PM Manmohan Singh's statement on coal block allocation
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Following is the text of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Statement on the coal block allocation issue over which Parliament's business has been disrupted for the second week today.
1. I seek the indulgence of the House to make a statement on issues regarding coal block allocations which have been the subject of much discussion in the press and on which several Hon'ble members have also expressed concern.
2. The issues arise from a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General which has been tabled in Parliament and remitted to the Public Accounts Committee. CAG reports are normally discussed in detail in the Public Accounts Committee, when the Ministry concerned responds to the issues raised. The PAC then submits its report to the Speaker and that Report is then discussed in Parliament.
3. I seek your indulgence to depart from this established procedure because of the nature of the allegations that are being made and because I was holding the charge of Coal Minister for a part of the time covered by the report. I want to assure Hon¿ble Members that as the Minister in charge, I take full responsibility for the decisions of the Ministry. I wish to say that any allegations of impropriety are without basis and unsupported by the facts.
4. Allocation of coal blocks to private companies for captive use commenced in 1993, after the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973 was amended. This was done with the objective of attracting private investments in specified end uses. As the economy grew in size, the demand for coal also grew and it became evident that Coal India Ltd. alone would not be able to meet the growing demand.
5. Since 1993, allocation of captive coal blocks was being done on the basis of recommendations made by an inter-Ministerial Screening Committee which also had representatives of State governments. Taking into account the increasing number of applicants for coal block allocation, the Government, in 2003, evolved a consolidated set of guidelines to ensure transparency and consistency in allocation.