The Government and the Opposition stuck to their positions as the last week of the Monsoon session began here on Monday.

Though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said a debate in Parliament on the coal scam could be possible if the Government cancelled all 142 coal block allocations and announced an independent probe, the Government rejected it.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said an Inter-Ministerial Group was looking into the issue of cancellation and a CBI probe, already on, would find irregularities, if any, in the allocations.

He said the BJP’s demand for cancellation of all 142 coal blocks allocated after 2004 was not founded on sound logic. The cancellation cannot be done through arbitrary orders, he said, and added that the Government was doing everything possible.

Denying differences among the members of the Inter-Ministerial Group that discussed the issue, the Finance Minister said a date of September 15 had been set for a decision on cancellation. “The process is underway,” he added.

Chidambaram said the Coal Ministry had cautioned 32 coal blocks and sent show-cause notices to 58 others for delaying the mining process.

No Bills in din

The Finance Minister said the Government had no plans to pass legislations such as Banking and Pension Bills without discussion in Parliament. “People expect us to debate and we owe it to the people,” he said.

He said the Government was, in principle, against passing Bills amid din. He claimed that there was a tacit understanding among individual members that certain Bills, which were cleared by the Standing Committees, could be passed in Parliament.

BJP adamant

The BJP said it would continue to demand the Prime Minister’s resignation on the issue.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the Government, by rejecting the very idea of cancelling the allocations, had conclusively demonstrated that it had a vested interest in continuing this arbitrary and discretionary allocation.

(This article was published on September 3, 2012)
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