All coal block allotments from 1993 to 2010 “illegal“: House panel

A parliamentary panel probing the irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks has found that the allocations made between 1993 and 2010 were "unauthorised and illegal", and recommended scrapping of all mines that have not started production.

The standing committee on coal and steel, which is looking into allocation of coal blocks for both captive and public consumption, has found ''total abuse of power'' by the government machinery in coal blocks allocation, which were given to a ''few fortunates'' between 1993 and 2010.

The panel, in its report tabled in Parliament today, also recommended detailed investigation into the coal block allocation process and penal action against the guilty.

Coal mines were allocated in "most non-transparent" manner and natural resources were distributed to "few fortunates" through "abuse of power" by the then ruling dispensation, the panel noted in its report.

"Distribution of mines was done in a most unauthorised manner," said panel chairman and Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee.

He also sought scrapping of all mine where production was yet to start, besides investigating role of officials involved in the allotment process.

"Most non-transparent procedure was adopted from 1993 to 2010 for allocation and supply of coal blocks. The natural resources and state largesse were distributed to few fortunates for their own benefit without following any transparent system, in a total abuse of power by the government," the panel said.

"The government cannot give largesse on its arbitrary discretion or its sweet will," the report said, adding that the illegal allocations amounted to huge losses to the state exchequer, which the coal ministry even failed to quantify.

"Despite our repeated queries, coal ministry could not give us information on quantity of coal or its value. We are not an investigating agency and thus not in a position to assess the losses," Banerjee said.

"It is unfortunate that for allocating coal blocks neither any auction was held nor the central government earned any revenue," the report noted.

Banerjee, however, tried to defend Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, who was coal minister in the NDA government, saying, "Every coal minister is not party of the allocation process."

Opposition parties in Parliament, meanwhile, continued to up the ante over the twin controversies of 2G and coal scam.