Bengal has sole operatorship of India’s largest coal block: Mamta Banerjee

New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today claimed to have got the Centre’s clearance for the sole operatorship of India’s largest coal block Deocha-Pachami in the state’s Birbhum district.

Banerjee called on Union Coal Minister Piyush Goyal at his residence after chief ministers met President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on celebrating the 150 birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Speaking to reporters, the chief minister claimed that she had got the clearance from the Union Minister after holding discussions related to certain complications Bengal was facing regarding the coal block.

“I discussed the issue with him. We had to share the coal block with five other states earlier. Now, they all have agreed to give it to us. We were waiting for the central (government) clearance. We have now got the clearance,” Banerjee said.

The state government has a plan of Rs 12,000 crore to develop the huge coal block in the Deocha-Pachami belt. It can generate one lakh jobs. The state government has shown interest to develop the block that can produce coal worth more than Rs 2 lakh.

Responding to the state government’s proposal the Centre has already set up an intra-ministerial committee to explore the project.

The block was originally offered jointly to West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and SJVNL (formerly the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd).

None, however, showed any interest in developing the block in the last three years or so, prompting Banerjee to seek sole operatorship. The Centre had responded to Banerjee’s demand by setting up an inter-ministerial committee to examine her proposal.

After two years of deliberations, the Centre has now agreed to allow Bengal to develop the mine. Earlier the chief minister had tweeted that Deocha-Pachami coal mines will be a huge contributor to the economic development of the area and create jobs for lakhs and lakhs of people

Banerjee had also urged the minister, who also holds the Railway portfolio, to speed up the Metro projects of Kolkata.

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