The opposition has demanded cancellation of 155 coal blocks awarded since 2006, citing the Comptroller & Auditor General’s (CAG) report, even as industry chambers joined the debate, arguing that scrapping the contracts would dampen investment sentiments further.
The BJP, which claimed the support of all NDA members as well as Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK, said all the blocks awarded since 2006 should be cancelled and these should be auctioned. Even the four Left parties and the Telugu Desam Party were on the same page and went on to say that the PM’s statement contained “several distortions”.
“We want a thorough probe into the entire allocation to find out who was responsible, howsoever highly placed the person might be, cancellation of all coal block allotments and a discussion in the House,” CPM’s Sitaram Yechury said.
He defended the earlier Left Front government in West Bengal and dismissed the PM’s statement that former CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had opposed competitive bidding. In fact, Yechury cited two letters from the then state chief secretary to argue that Left-ruled West Bengal did not oppose competitive bidding.
But industry chambers said that cancellation was not the solution. “I am not sure about the demand for cancelling allocations as there will be implications on the players involved, which I am not clear about. But, definitely, cancellation will create a lot of confusion as people have already made the investments. To change all of that will really impact investment sentiment. The way forward should be to ensure a transparent auction and lay down all rules in advance. Some of them made investments in completely good faith. So why penalize them,” Ficci secretary general Rajiv Kumar said.