Government rejects BJP demand to cancel allocation of 142 coal blocks

The government today rejected BJP's demand for immediate cancellation of 142 coal block allocations even as a parliamentary standing committee expressed unhappiness over allocation of coal blocks to private firms, most of which have failed to develop them.

Finance minister P ChidambaramWhile this has prompted the government to state that 116 fresh mines will be allotted to the state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL), finance minister P Chidambaram found no logic in the opposition's demand to cancel the free allocation of coal blocks to private companies.

"A paradoxical situation is arising in the country wherein the coal blocks are being allocated to private parties most of which are failing to develop coal blocks in stipulated time frame, whereas CIL, is vying with foreign players in international market to acquire coal assets abroad to meet its requirements," the parliamentary panel on steel and coal said in its report tabled in the Rajya Sabha today.

Rejecting BJP's demand for immediate cancellation of 142 coal block allocations, Chidambaram appealed to the opposition to allow Parliament to function and join in a debate on the issue.

"The demand for cancellation of all 142 coal blocks allocated after 2004 is not founded on sound logic.... It cannot be done through dictat or arbitrary orders," Chidambaram told reporters.

"There is a procedure for it and that procedure is underway," he said.