Government rejects BJP’s demands to end parliament logjam


New Delhi : The government Monday rejected the conditions laid down by the BJP to end the parliament logjam and appealed to it to debate the issue while admitting that the purpose of coal block allocations policy has suffered a setback.

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“The demand for prime minister’s resignation is outrageous… they (the BJP) know it will never be done. As for the cancellation of coal blocks, action will be taken after an inter-ministerial group looking into the issue submits report by mid-September,” Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters here.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not allowed parliament to function for the past two weeks demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation and cancellation of the 142 coal blocks given by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government 2006-09 after a CAG report alleged private players had windfall gains worth Rs 1.85 lakh crore through the process.

“The coal blocks allocation policy has been in operation since 1993… but the purpose of allocation (to boost economy) has suffered a setback. Many mines have not been mined,” Chidambaram said.

Stating there was no need of a judicial probe into the allocations, as demanded by the Left parties, he clarified that the UPA government thought of changing the policy to the auction route in 2004 and has now changed it.

“But it took us some time,” said Chidambaram.

He said parliament must debate the coal blocks issue.

“A face to face debate is the only way where clarity can emerge in the issue… we owe it to the people… I appeal to the BJP to join the debate in parliament,” he said.

According to the finance minister, while 47 blocks allocated vindicated the policy, 58 blocks, where show cause notices have been served, were a setback.

Giving details of the blocks, he said that while 30 were producing coal, 70 were likely to bear coal in the near future and 58 required environmental clearance.

“But 32 blocks out of which 7 were given before 2004 have shown unsatisfactory progress,” he said.

Chidambaram said it was the CAG’s job to pin-point mistakes in the government’s functioning and said he has taken it in his stride.