Major trade unions representing coal workers 21-10-2014 said they oppose the e-auction of cancelled coal blocks proposed by an ordinance with an enabling provision for commercial mining by private companies, and threatened a nationwide strike if the government went ahead with the proposal.
The cabinet 20-10-2014 recommended for presidential assent to an ordinance to facilitate e-auction of coal blocks for private companies for captive use and allot mines directly to state and central undertakings, which has an enabling provision for future commercial use of mines.
Saying the proposed ordinance could be used â€œas a backdoor entry for taking over the entire coal sector by the private corporatesâ€, All India Trade Union Congress general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said: â€œWe strongly protest and call upon the government to reverse the decision as there is an enabling clause in the Ordinance which gives rise to concerns and apprehensions of sweeping privatisation of coal sector."
If such a vital national resource was privatised, â€œnational interest will be jeopardised and Coal India Ltd will be weakenedâ€, he added.
Mining interests of Coal India, present and future, will be adequately protected and the original 1973 Coal Nationalisation Act remains, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters Monday announcing cabinet approval of the ordinance.
While actual users of steel, cement and power from the private sector will bid for the blocks, state-owned organisations like NTPC and state electricity boards will be allocated blocks as per their requirement, Jaitley said.
Describing the government's move to reallocate the blocks by e-auction as "not at all a welcome decision, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said it condemns any move to nullify the Coal Nationalisation Act.
"The CITU opposes any move for denationalisation of coal industry and calls upon the workers and the trade union movement to unitedly resist such disastrous move of allowing commercial mining by private entities at the initiation stage itself, " CITU said in a statement.
"The CITU also urges government to reconsider its decision to auction those coal blocks again to private entities and instead vest all of them to Coal India,â€ it added.
All India Coal Workers Federation (AICWF) general secretary Jibon Roy asserted that if the government implemented any enabling provision allowing commercial mining by private companies, the coal workers may proceed on a nationwide strike.
â€œTo protest against the enabling provision and proposed e-auction, the workers would stage nationwide dharna from Nov 5 to 7,â€ Roy said.
The ordinance, unveiled on expiry of the model code of conduct in force for the recent assembly elections, is being brought in to resolve issues arising out of the Supreme Court cancelling allocations of 214 coal blocks last month.