Hansraj Ahir, Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament, who has been relentlessly fighting against the government's coal policy since 2008 told rediff.com, "Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde should be partially blamed for the mess created by the controversial allocation of coal blocks when he was power minister."
Ahir says, "I was shocked when Shinde allowed some 45 coal-based power plants in my constituency of Chandrapur in Maharashtra."
He argued that starting coal-based power plants need a regular supply of water. Shinde was not taking the holistic picture of the development of the region. He didn't take notice that so many coal-based plants in a region are an environmental hazard. Any government has to be doubly sure that all norms are followed, not just few of them, Ahir said.
Ahir said, "Once, I went to see Shinde to complain about so many power plants in and around my area. I told him we have only one river named Vardha. How can you allow so many power plants just to allot free coal blocks? Aap power plants dena bandh karo! (Stop giving permission to start the power plants!)."
Shinde had no regrets, claims Ahir, "Shinde told me that I would sign sifarish for power plants (recommendation to allot free coal blocks to start power plants) even when I am half-asleep!"
Due to Shinde's penchant to 'recklessly push' power plants in Chandrapur, the 'tariff-based
Ahir insists that the media has not yet started looking into the tariff-based allocation of coal blocks which will bring out more dirty deals done in connivance of the ministry of power and ministry of coal.
Ahir says in his area many new and old power producers have been accommodated by Shinde. Tata Power, Wardha Power Company, Nandlal Enterprises, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, Mahagenco, Gupta Coalfields and Washeries, Enco Energy, Aryan Coal Benefications Ltd, Dhariwal Infrastructure, Gopani Iron and Power are some of the companies who got the approval for power plants and in turn got free coal blocks from the government.
Ahir recalls, "Central Bureau of Investigation officers had come to me and (BJP spokesperson) Prakash Jawdekar. We told the officers don't ask us who are the current owners of the companies that got free coal blocks. First check who got permission for power plants and how those companies got coal blocks. After getting free coal blocks just investigate how the companies have changed hands. One can find it out easily from the office of the registrar of companies in different states, where these companies are based. Big bucks were made in selling the companies who got free coal blocks which was public property."