A day after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the Birbhum coal block, Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta on Thursday urged him not to inaugurate it unless proper environmental clearances are received and a rehabilitation package is given to the affected people.
Banerjee during her meeting with the PM on Wednesday, invited him to inaugurate the Deocha Pachami coal block in Birbhum, which is the world’s second largest, after Durga Puja.
Dasgupta, who was nominated to the Upper House by the Modi government, wrote a letter to the PM Thursday, saying if the PM inaugurated the coal block at this juncture, it would lead to “serious distortions” and open way for unscrupulous operators. “The plans are at a very early stage and there has been no study of its likely social and environmental consequences. The process of securing environmental clearances has not yet begun,” he wrote.
Dasgupta further said the area where the coal block was located was populated by vulnerable tribal groups and the plans for rehabilitation of the displaced people had not yet taken shape. “In recent weeks, Birbhum district has been gripped by political violence and there are serious charges of police high-handedness. There is a suspicion that some of the violence may be triggered by land sharks. Given these factors, I feel that your presence at a formal inauguration of the project after the Durga Puja festival may send all wrong signals,” he said.
Dasgupta said the PM’s presence at such an event might indicate that all the necessary formalities were completed and coal mining was likely to be operational within a very short time. “It would not be in the interests of the state if your name is sought to be used in a manner that brings disrepute to the state,” he added.