Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Saturday said the Union coal ministry’s decision to go ahead with commercial mining by private players and subsequent coal block auctions, without taking its concerns into consideration, shows “blatant disregard” for co-operative federalism.
He said there are potential socio-economic and environmental costs to the decision, and that such mining would have an impact on forests and the tribal population.
“We have filed a petition in the Supreme Court. This is a big policy decision and the state government needs to be taken into confidence. Mining has been always a burning issue… A lof issues like land, rights of the people… need to be sorted. We have decided not to hurry,” Soren said Saturday. He added that there should have been a survey to ascertain whether the people of the state benefited from the move. “That is why we need to fight this,” he added.
“The need for fair assessment of the social and environmental impact on the huge ‘tribal population’ and vast tracts of ‘forest lands’ of the state and its residents which are likely to be adversely affected,” read an application filed by the state government.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Thursday announced the auction of 41 coal blocks for commercial mining and said the decision would bring the coal sector out of “decades of lockdown”. Adding that the move was a major step towards self-reliance, he said India should aim to become the top exporter of the commodity.
However, earlier on June 10, Soren had written to Union Coal Minister Prahlad Joshi, requesting a moratorium on the proposed mining for six to nine months to ensure sustainable mineral development.
Soren said people know why the Centre is in such a hurry. “Vyaparion ka samuh desh ko jakad rakha hai aur aaj is shor sharabe ke bech mein is tarah ke karya ko karna: ye wahi wali baat ho gayi ki gaon mein aag lagi hai aur log samaan chura ke bhaag rahe hain. Hamara virodh hai ki kendra sarkar aage na badhe (The business community has grasped the country… we are protesting that the Centre should not move ahead with this policy decision).”
He added that the government’s biggest challenge is to provide relief to migrants.