Congress Asks 3 Questions on Loopholes in Amendments to Coal Mines Act
Moneylife Digital Team 02 March 2023
In the 19th instalment of questions under the series, 'Hum Adani Ke Hai Kaun' (HAHK), the Congress party has asked three questions to prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi related to the loophole in Section 11 of the Coal Mines Act, which it says permitted new concessionaire to continue mining contracts signed by the previous allottee and thus benefitted Mr Adani. 
In a release, Jairam Ramesh, member of Parliament (MP) and general secretary for communications of Congress, says, "This is our second set of questions relating to the Adani coal scam in which you (the PM) are directly implicated. On 9 April 2015, you had stated that the 'conclusion of the auctions in coal and spectrum establishes that the curse of scam and corruption is avoidable and transparency possible if there is political will'. It is ironic that you spoke these words only two weeks after going out of your way to reallocate huge coal mines to your favourite business partner, after writing enabling provisions into the new coal law."
Here are the three questions asked by Congress to PM…
1. Your government passed the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act on 20 March 2015 to implement the Supreme Court’s decision to cancel and auction prior coal mine allocations. However, Section 11(1) of the Act added a convenient loophole by permitting a new concessionaire to continue mining contracts signed by the previous allottee. This led to the reappointment of the Adani group by BJP state governments as mine developer and operator (MDO) for two mines, including the Parsa East and Kente Basan coal block in Chhattisgarh on 26 March 2015. A subsequent NITI Aayog report critiquing this allotment has reportedly been suppressed, but the correspondence has now emerged in which senior officials in your own office have described these allocations as 'inappropriate' and lacking 'consistency and transparency'. Clearly your own officials, perhaps fearful of being held accountable, are distancing themselves from this blatant favouritism towards the Adani group. Are their written observations not a stinging condemnation of your hypocrisy and the fact that you have clearly been tainted by “the curse of scam and corruption”?
2. Even after pointing out that the fresh MDO contracts with the Adani group were opaque and inappropriate, the officials in your office chose to amend the Coal Block Allocation Rules only prospectively to prevent this in the future. They left the problematic Adani Group allocations untouched even though the group is the sole beneficiary of the Section 11(1) loophole. Did you put any pressure on your officials to ensure that no retrospective changes are made that could damage the commercial interests and cash-flows of your cronies? 
3. The 14 February 2023 HAHK questions had asked if you had put pressure on your counterpart PM Sheikh Hasina to accept terms that were extremely favourable to Adani Power and unfavourable to Bangladesh in the contract to supply electricity to Bangladesh from Adani’s Godda (Jharkhand) power plant. Since then, it emerges that the Rampal power plant, set up earlier by India’s state-owned NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) in Bagerhat, Bangladesh, has a much more balanced power purchase agreement (PPA) that furthers both Indian and Bangladeshi interests. Public pressure appears to have forced Adani Power to agree to a renegotiation of the exorbitant fuel cost of the Godda plant. This begs the question: How does acting as an agent of the Adani group and trying to enrich your friends at the expense of our neighbours help further the Indian national interest?
Read about the previous questions here:
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