Centre has no data to back Modi’s claim that coal auction will generate ‘lakhs of jobs’

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on October 06, 2020

Coal Ministry says, in an RTI reply, that it has no data on employment and revenue generation from auction of 41 coal mines

When launching the commercial coal mining auctions on June 18 Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that the process will generate “lakhs of jobs.” But the Coal Ministry says it does not have any report or calculation to back the claim.

The Ministry said this in an RTI reply provided to an energy researcher and author, Sandeep Pai. He sought details from the Ministry on employment and revenue generation from the auction of 41 coal mines for commercial mining.

“It is informed that this office is not having any report/survey/white paper/consultancy report/calculation on basis of which benefit of employment generation and revenue generation to State government is calculated,” the Ministry told Pai in the response.

Pai, in his query citing a press release by the Prime Minister’s Office, said on the occasion of the launch, PM spoke about several benefits to the country such as employment generation for more than 2.8 laks people and contribution of ₹20,000-crore revenues annually to the State governments. Pai asked the Ministry to provide a copy of the report/study/survey/white paper/consultancy report/calculation or any other methodology used on the basis of which such a number was arrived at.

Pai told BusinessLine that everyone in the government, from the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the Finance Minister to the Coal Minister have been vocally promoting the benefits of commercial coal mining on employment and revenue generation for people and States.

Bold claims

“These benefits formed an important basis on which commercial coal mining was justified by the government. The RTI reply shows that the Coal Ministry does not seem to have any scientific study that is the basis for these bold claims including the creation of three lakh jobs and ₹20,000 crore revenue for states. This raises serious questions about the validity and transparency of these claims. Ideally, the methodology of these claims for such an important policy with enormous opposition — from tribal groups, all trade unions, environmentalists, to even State governments like Jharkhand — should be made public,” he said.

Modi had said on June 18 that the steps taken towards commercial mining will be very helpful to a big population of eastern and central India in providing them employment near their homes and reducing many such problems. “Auction of these coal blocks today will itself generate lakhs of jobs in this sector. Not only this, but infrastructure needed for coal extraction to transportation will also create employment opportunities. Recently, the government has taken a decision to spend ₹50,000 crore rupee on creating such an infrastructure,” the Prime Minister had said.

Published on October 06, 2020

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