Will the CAG report on coal blocks allocation be a catharsis of sorts for the sector in India?
There are indications to this effect.
Economists and investors have raised the clamour to kick start reforms in the closely held coal sector, taking advantage of the scathing report from the government auditor.
The government may be giving in to the long-pending demand.
In a report in The Economic Times, Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal has expressed willingness to take up the amendment of the Coal Mine Nationalisation Act, which gives state-run Coal India the monopoly over coal in the country.
“This is the only way forward and there is a consensus within the government on this,” the minister has been quoted as saying on deregulation of coal.
An earlier attempt at the decontrol, taken up the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, was scuttled by trade unions.
The minister has urged the BJP, the main opposition party, to come on board, which, he hopes, will force the “trade unions to fall in line”.
Jaiswal’s comments come at a time when the government is drawing flak in Parliament over the alleged corruption in allocation of captive coal blocks to private companies.
Earlier media reports had said that companies, which received coal blocks for a song, were sold, helping promoters make huge profits.
However, will the BJP, now busy stalling Parliament in its bid to force a resignation of the Prime Minister, heed to Jaiswal’s request? Wait and watch.
Read the full report here.