Opposition stands divided on crucial Coal, Mines Bills

AM JIGEESH New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018

Cong, Left, and JD (U) to give dissent notes to select committee reports

The Narendra Modi-led Government has managed to break the Opposition’s unity, with the Trinamool Congress, the Biju Janata Dal, and the AIADMK deciding to toe the Centre’s line in the select committees on Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2015 and Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (Amendment) Bill, 2015.

The draft reports of both the committees have suggested no changes to the Bills in their present form. The divided Opposition, including Congress, Left parties and JD (U), has decided to submit dissent notes to both the reports. The SP and BSP are yet to make up their minds on the subject, a source in the Opposition told BusinessLine.

In Monday’s meeting of the select committee on the Coal Bill, the Opposition protested the decision not to accommodate even unanimous suggestions from the members.

The BJP, particularly Energy Minister Piyush Goyal, had reached out to several Chief Ministers for an easy passage of the Bill. Chairman of Rajya Sabha Hamid Ansari turned down the demand from the Opposition leaders that the select committees should be given an extension.

Deadline matters

Raising the matter in the Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said the panels should not be allowed to complete the procedures on two crucial Bills within five days.

The Government said it cannot be done as the Rajya Sabha has already fixed a deadline to submit the report.

“Suggestions such as a regulator for deciding the price of coals, compensations to existing labourers and old licensees and deciding a pattern to distribute the revenues to States were not included in the draft report. Other than that, many of us have been complaining that the entire trajectory of privatising the national resources such as coal is wrong,” said an Opposition MP who did not want to be identified.

He added that the Bill, on detailed examination, has several flaws, which will be highlighted in the dissent notes.

A member of the ruling side said the Opposition members can submit dissent notes as many parties are finding the Bills good for their States. “They are playing obstructive politics,” he said.

Published on March 16, 2015

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