CPI(M) on 22-10-14 attacked the Narendra Modi government for issuing an ordinance to allow e-auction of coal blocks for private parties, saying it "completely nullifies" the Coal Nationalisation Act of 1973 and no such decision can be taken without Parliament approval.
Following Supreme Court order quashing the allocation of 214 coal blocks, "it has now been found that most of these coal blocks were not under production but were used as collaterals for raising capital and speculative profiteering through sale of coal for purposes other than the stipulated ones," the CPI(M) Politburo said in a statement.
It said the ordinance "completely nullifies the Coal Nationalisation Act of 1973. Coal was nationalised as a precious national asset required for the country's development especially to provide energy resources to the people.
"By an open market e-auction this objective would be negated. In any case such a decision cannot be taken unless Parliament enacts a legislation nullifying the 1973 Act."
The CPI(M) said the Act was already "considerably diluted" by successive Central Governments from the Vajpayee- led NDA government onwards when the right was given for captive power plants in specific sectors like power generation, steel, fertilizer and cement and the blocks were allocated under this dispensation.
The party demanded implementation of the Act "in right earnest" and the empowering of state-run Coal India to undertake all mining in the country.
"After allocating the resource for the public sector and state electricity boards for providing power to the people, the remaining may be sold in the open market for private corporates," it said.
Asserting that his party would not let the government negate or dilute the 1973 Coal Nationalisation Act in any form, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury on Wednesday said the requirements of the state electricity boards and the public sector units like the NTPC must be met first before considering on the needs of private players.
He also suggested for keeping the mining of country's coal resources in the hands of Coal India and maintained that all the private players who want to use coal should buy it from the open market.
"What we are saying is that the coal resource in our country should be tapped and mined only by the public sector coal India after meeting the requirements of all the state electricity boards and the public sector units like the NTPC etc. which provide power to the country, which run power grids in the country their requirements must first be met and after that let the produced coal be sold in the open market," Yechury told ANI here.
"All the private players who want to use coal let them buy it from the open market, but let the mining be with Coal India. That is the spirit of the Parliament Act and that should be ensured, that cannot be negated or diluted," he added.
The CPI (M) leader also said that his party would be raising the issue of e-auctioning of coal blocks in the Parliament.
"Of course, we will raise it in the Parliament and we think that the government has no locus-standi to take any decision as long as the 1973 Coal Nationalization Act is the law of the land," he added.
President Pranab Mukherjee had earlier on Tuesday signed the ordinance passed by the Union Cabinet to auction the non-operating coal blocks, which were cancelled by the Supreme Court last month.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had earlier on Monday announced the ordinance stated that the 214 coal blocks be put up for auction, with a priority given to state-owned organisations like NTPC and state electricity boards.
Jaitley had also said that the ordinance had been sent to President Mukherjee for his approval. The auction will be completed within three to four months.
In September this year, the Supreme Court had cancelled 214 coal block allocations, giving the owners six months time to wind up. Only four coal blocks had not been cancelled.