Nothing seems to go right with the Coal India Limited (CIL). In the first week of April, the government issued a ‘presidential directive’ to force it to supply 80 percent of the coal required by various power companies to improve power generation. But that didn’t work, simply because CIL has failed to produce enough coal, frequently falling short of the targets. Now, the government has scaled down the supply commitment to 65 percent.
Soon thereafter came a parliamentary standing committee report saying that it was doing nothing to stop rampant illegal mining. The eastern coal belts are particularly known for open loot of coal, so much so that in the past four years 616 FIRs have been lodged. CIL not only has no idea what happened to these FIRs, it hasn’t even claimed more than 28,000 tonne of coal seized in these four years and are dumped at various police stations.
In response, CIL did try to do something. It floated a tender at the end of April seeking to appoint a consultant to study the extent of illegal mining and suggest steps to prevent it. But when the closing time came, there was no taker.
It seems the potential bidders are also scarred of the powerful group that controls the illegal mining, particularly in the eastern part of the country. The parliamentary panel said the illegal business was thriving because of the connivance of police, mafias, middlemen and administrative officials. Add Maoist menace to that and it is a pretty scary picture. Illegal mining has been happening for decades and out in the open. Nobody has dared to interfere.
As the parliamentary panel points out, CIL and coal ministry blame the state government saying that and order is a state subject. The states on their part have done nothing for decades. In fact, the state has very little presence in these areas. Now that nobody is willing to even carryout a study and suggest remedies, we are back to the square one. It is business as usual for the mining mafias.
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