BHUBANESWAR: With the Narendra Modi government trying to woo regional parties to ensure passage of various proposed legislations in the Rajya Sabha, the ruling BJD on Monday pressed for changes in the land acquisition bill and more revenue for the state from auction of coal blocks.
While BJD MPs opposed the land bill in the Lok Sabha on grounds that it was anti-people and pro-corporate, chief minister Naveen Patnaik met Union power and coal minister Piyush Goyal at Odisha Bhawan, New Delhi, and expressed serious concern at Odisha getting a "minuscule portion of benefits" as compared to other states from the ongoing coal blocks auction.
Naveen told Goyal that a large number of coal blocks in Odisha have been earmarked for power sector, which witnesses a reverse bidding process and puts the state in a comparatively disadvantageous position, according to an official release.
Of the nine coal blocks in Odisha that are earmarked for auction, only one is allotted to non-regulated sector (including steel, aluminium and cement industries and their captive power plants), he pointed out, adding, a large number of industries in the state will be put to great disadvantage as adequate number of coal blocks have not been earmarked to meet their captive requirements.
Goyal reportedly assured that the Centre shall address the "just concerns" of Odisha and ensure that the state government receives maximum revenue from coal blocks auction. Goyal further assured that a large coal block will be earmarked for commercial mining for benefit of industries in the state and another coal block will be allocated to a state PSU.
In a letter to the Prime Minister on February 27, Naveen said the state's share out of the revenue of more than Rs 1 lakh crore earned from coal blocks auctioned till now, would be less than 1%. The "disproportionately high" share of coal blocks in Odisha earmarked for the power sector would not only affect the end-user mineral industries in the state, but also substantially reduce its revenue benefits due to the reverse bidding process adopted for the power sector, he added.
With reports speculating that the Centre might be forced to accept certain demands of the state, BJD MPs opposed the land bill. The regional party, which has 20 members in Lok Sabha and 8 in Rajya Sabha and could play a key role during voting on bills, has been primarily opposing the move to dilute the "consent clause" and doing away with social impact assessment study during land acquisition.
"This ordinance that is being sought to be made a law is obviously regressive and definitely detrimental to the interest of the common men holding small tracts of land in rural India," said BJD MP Tathagat Satpathy, adding, "Land acquired for such profit-making ventures should have a profit-sharing clause built into them."