Companies & Sectors
CBI may probe coal block allocations made during NDA rule

Holding coal bearing states, including those ruled by BJP, responsible for coal block allocations, Narayansami said about 90% work relating to allotment is vested with the states

Bhubaneswar: V Narayansami, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Thursday said Centre is examining demands for including coal block allocations made during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule within purview of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe, reports PTI.


"There are demands from various quarters to include coal block allocations made during BJP-led NDA rule from 1999 to 2004. Union Coal Ministry is looking into it," he said.


Maintaining that Centre had taken pro-active step by ordering probe into the allocations in March 2012, much before CAG gave its report, he alleged BJP is finding CBI probe "inconvenient as it fears that its own leaders would be exposed."


Dismissing BJP's demand for SIT probe into the alleged irregularities in coal blocks distribution, Narayansami said CBI is very much an independent agency with a reputation for impartiality, making many states recommend for probe by it.


"Action will be taken against anyone found guilty in CBI probe ... including chief ministers, ministers or officials," he said.


Holding coal bearing states, including those ruled by BJP, responsible for coal block allocations, Narayansami said about 90% work relating to allotment, starting from sending recommendations to endorsing and executing the allocation, is vested with the states.


Stating that 39 coal blocks were allocated during BJP-led NDA rule without following any guidelines or transparent policy, he said when UPA came to power the prime minister sought allocation of coal in a transparent way.


When views of states were sought, states like Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal opposed auction mode, he said, adding that coal bearing states were party to allocation as the screening committee included their chief secretaries.


Slamming BJP for making an "unreasonable, unethical and unfair" demand for resignation of the Prime Minister, Narayansami said nowhere in the CAG report there is any mention about "any scam in coal allocation."


"The name of Prime Minister also does not figure, it was UPA government which framed guidelines and procedures for coal block allotment in 2005," he said.


He said before demanding Prime Minister's resignation, the BJP should ask its chief ministers to resign for their "role" in coal block allocation.


He also accused BJP of "forgetting" that its chief ministers had "strongly opposed" auction mode for allocations.


Hitting out at BJP for stalling Parliament over the issue, Narayansami said the impasse prevented passage of several important bills and discussion on burning issues.


Accusing BJP of "destabilise the government and nation" by blocking proceedings in the Parliament, Narayansami said government as well as most political parties, including many NDA allies, were in favour of debate on the coal issue.


"Now BJP is no more seeking prime minister's resignation but wants cancellation of coal block allocations," he said.


Rejecting the demand for cancellation of allocations, the Union minister said it would be unfair and unethical to do so in view of time spent and investments already made.


Goa government mum on recovery of losses from illegal mine owners

Goa government’s soft pedalling on the issue comes as an unexpected stand considering the magnitude of the ore illegally extracted from encroachments touted to be about Rs35,000 crore

Panaji: Following Justice MB Shah Commission report on illegal iron ore mining in Goa, the state government is apparently non-committal on recovering a whopping Rs35,000 crore from the mine owners who illegally plundered the resources, reports PTI.


In its report, Shah Commission has pointed out around 100 encroachments outside the mining lease areas by the companies which extracted large sums of ore between 2006 to 2010.


The commission's report, tabled in Parliament last week, quantified the total extraction of ore from these encroachments to Rs35,000 crore.


The judicial panel has recommended that the money should be recovered by the state from the mine owners.


However, state Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has been on an action taking spree against the officials involved in illegal mining operations, has remained silent over the recovery of money from the mine operators.


"We are still examining the report (of Shah Commission)," he said, responding to a question on recovery.


"We will impose penalty on the mining firms which have encroached upon the revenue (government) lands," he added.


The state government's soft pedalling on the issue comes as an unexpected stand considering the magnitude of the ore illegally extracted from these encroachments.


Amid all this, the Parrikar government had suspended seven officials from state mines and geology department within hours of the Union Mines Ministry tabling the Shah Commission report in Parliament on 7th September.


Also, all the 90 odd mining leases were suspended, asking the owners to submit the relevant documents before mines and geology department.


The mining outside the lease area, which is a blatant violation of the law, was done in 2,796.24 hectares area, of which the actual extraction happened in 578 hectares.


Shah Commission records indicate that still 2,222 ha of land is left untouched, but encroached by the mine owners.


Over the years, total 1,273 million metric tonnes of ore was extracted from these illegal encroachments worth Rs35,000 crore.


Shah commission had recommended that the state government should take immediate action to recover market cost of the iron ore illegally extracted after having proven estimation or others from outside the leased areas with exemplary penalty, along with criminal cases is filed against the lessees and department officials.


"The cost incurred due to estimation should be recovered from the extractors," it has added.



Jayant Shetty

5 years ago

It is now your call Mr. Parrikar! The Buck stops with you @ Goa!!

Middle class at crossroads

Mere growth of the middle class is not a comfort unless there is an upward movement in the percentage of population which is able to access the minimum comforts of life

It was HG Wells who talked about middle class being pushed down or pulled up to create a world which will have only two classes of people, one living above the ground in luxury and the other living underground. More recently, the Indian Railways had demonstrated the intention of getting rid of “middle class” by offering only first and third class accommodation. Still, long after Wells, and abolition of “second class” by the Indian Railways, the middle class do survive in the dreams of the poor (glorified as BPL category), as they hope one day to cross over the poverty line and become part of the middle class and the wishes of the rich who need a healthy middle class to carry out their orders. What will be the future of middle class in India? 
Who all belong to the middle class? Who knows! Sometime back, ADB (Asian Development Bank) offered a vague definition for middle class, suggesting daily per capita consumption at $2 to $20. Such an approach suits bodies engaged in marketing goods and services and supporting governments in policy formulation. It helps to interpret poverty levels in one way when they want to sell an idea or a product and quite differently when the purpose is comparison among countries for extending benefits or concessions. Needless to say, the concept of poverty or more appropriately put, hunger, also vary depending on the constituency interests of the person explaining it.
Some say, the middle class is growing in India. Mere growth of the middle class is not a comfort unless there is an upward movement in the percentage of population which is able to access the minimum comforts of life like a house to live, facilities to educate children, food security, healthcare and arrangements for looking after the aged and physically/mentally challenged members of the family. Here, even the statistics reach us after the “date of expiry”.
The government, which is generally owned and operated by the upper class (in the economic sense, meaning those who have moved much above middle class) does not encourage a growing middle class. In the preferred situation, governments the world over dream of the prediction made by HG Wells coming true. Not only dream, they are doing everything possible to realize that dream. Governments and people who decide the fates of governments who generally belong to the BPL (Businessmen-Politicians-Lawyers) combine have a vested interest in keeping the majority of people poor and craving even for starvation wages. Only in such a situation the rich and the powerful can sit pretty on the heap of ugly wealth they accumulate. 
All of us have different reasons for making noises and we patiently wait for our turn. Because we are middle class. We don’t have our own voice. We echo the hopes and aspirations of those who are ‘below’ us or more often, carry out the wishes of our masters from the elite intelligentsia and the rich ruling class. We enjoy joining the self-appointed leaders in their fight to raise the poverty line by Rs2 from the present Rs32 per dium or shout with Anna Hazare when he has a problem with corrupt ministers and public servants. 
We trust people when they tell us that corruption is all about government servants and police constables who take bribes and all is well on the other side of the fence where private sector is carrying on honest business. Some recalcitrant boys among us have started questioning anything and everything with an eye of suspicion. They say asset accumulation by union ministers and some politicians is at a much greater pace than the growth of GDP (gross domestic product) and some industrialists who can ‘manage’ things are cornering nation’s resources free or at throw away prices. We keep listening. In between a story is planted that the person making so much noise against corruption herself has claimed a few rupees extra in a travelling allowance bill while in service and what right she has to shout against plundering of lakhs of crores of public funds. We start chasing her.
Workers in the government, public sector and organized sector outside generally belong to the middle class. This category of workers has trade unions or organisations to take up their work-related issues with the employer. Over time, leadership of these organisations have gone to less busy politicians and the governments and managements have successfully broken the organisations into convenient small pieces terribly affecting the bargaining strength of unions. Average worker in the unorganized sector is below or around poverty line and hopes some day to make his or her son or daughter a white-collar employee. Much like some characters in Katherine Boo’s now famous book “Behind the Beautiful Forevers”
The low level of literacy in India is congenial for perpetuating the present situation where 50% of the population will remain poor and hungry, 30% will belong to the middle class aspiring to become rich some day (but will be pulled down to the lower category fast!) and the remaining 20% will enjoy life at the cost of the remaining 80%. That will be the subject for another article!
(The writer is a freelancer based in Mumbai. He can be contacted at


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