Cong demands probe into NDA’s ‘gifting’ of mining licences

Cong demands probe into NDA’s ‘gifting’ of mining licences

Agency News

New Delhi, Sep 9: Charging the Narendra Modi Government at the Centre of gifting away mining licenses to its favourite corporate friends without following the auction route, the Congress on Monday demanded an impartial probe in the matter and punishment for the guilty.

At a press conference here, AICC spokesperson Pawan Khera charged the NDA Government with renewing leases for several mines for which it had been issued a notice by the Supreme court.

‘’In April, the Supreme Court issued notice on a petition demanding an inquiry into the renewal of several questionable leases by the Government of India for (iron ore and other) mines. The allegation made in the Petition is that several mining leases have been renewed in exchange for “large donations”. The petition alleges a loss of over Rs 4 lakh crore and demands a CBI inquiry.

On an evaluation of material before it, the court saw  sufficient merit in the charges to issue notice to the Government. It also appointed a senior advocate as amicus curiae to help determine the truth behind these allegations. "Five months have passed, and the Government has failed to give an answer to the Supreme Court on the allegations raised in the petition. The Congress demands that an impartial probe be instituted in the matter and the guilty be punished,’’ Khera said.

In January 2015, the Modi Government introduced a new amendment by way of Ordinance - Section 8A to the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1948 which allowed it to extend the leases of existing mines (captive and non-captive for both iron ore and other minerals) without going through the auction route and without having to pay any premium on the renewed leases some of which have been extended till 2030.

‘’Currently, it is alleged before the Supreme Court, that the leases for almost 358 mines have been renewed at no premium and no additional cost. 288 additional mining leases are up for renewal as well which are likely to be given the benefit of Mr Modi’s ‘modi-fied’ section 8A,’’ Mr Khera said.

Mr Khera posed several questions before the Governemt on the issue. It demanded that the government disclose the political donations received from the companies whose licenses have been renewed.

It also sought to know from the PM that when the Supreme Court in 2012 and in August 2014 said auction was the preferred route for the allocation of natural resources (unless a more financially feasible route was found), why did the Government choose a route that had actually cost the public several lakh crores, he added. (UNI)