West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to reconsider the decision of “allowing 100 per cent FDI” in the coal sector.

The Chief Minister stated that allowing 100 per cent FDI in coal for MNCs will carry a wrong message as it would contradict the very essence of Atmanirbhar Bharat and would also “kill the vision of self-reliant policy that we have been following since beginning”.

“I would, therefore, request you to kindly reconsider the decision of allowing 100 % FDI in the coal sector and also strongly urge your kind intervention for advising the Ministry of Coal not to go ahead with the decision of Coal India Ltd to wind up their subordinate offices from Kolkata,” read the letter by Banerjee dated June 25.

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Referring to the new policy announced by the “Central Government on allowing 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the area of coal mining, associate processing and selling of coal”, the Chief Minister expressed her serious reservation on this policy announcement, on “cogent” grounds.

“This policy can neither bring foreign direct investments nor can it bring technologies or know-how which we are unable to access today. The recent trend and empirical evidence clearly showcase the interest of global investors more in renewable energy projects as compared to coal mining projects. In fact, research suggests that about 100 global financial institutions have divested their thermal coal investments. Therefore, FDI in thermal coal is a far cry,” the letter said.

“At the time when the world’s largest coal mining company Coal India Limited (CIL) is producing 80 % of our coal with Profit Before Tax of Rs 27000 Crore (2018-19) and holding a Reserve of Rs 31,000 Crore, the decision of Central Government to relax FDI restrictions demeans the capability of CIL,” she stated.

Banerjee said that 80 per cent of coal availability is located in the eastern region of the country that is why Coal India Limited, the major Central Public Sector Undertaking has been functioning with its headquarters located in Kolkata.

“The recent abrupt decision to shift the desk offices of four of its subsidiary companies namely Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL), South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) and Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) from Kolkata to their respective headquarters in other areas will be extremely detrimental to the interests of all stakeholders of Coal Sector including the employees,” read the letter.

“It may also be mentioned that at present the Central Government, is continuously requesting every resident of our nation for following restricted movement in order to save their life from this extremely severe COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore this avoidable decision of Coal India Ltd (CIL) to shift these offices by 30 June 2020, is not humane and may endanger the innocent lives of its large number of employees as well as their family members. The contractual employees residing in or near Kolkata will lose their livelihood due to the withdrawal of offices,” it said.

Banerjee said that the location of the offices of all the four subsidiaries in the same city acts as an aid in better coordination among them and even with the CIL headquartered in Kolkata and the decision to shift them from the present strategic centre and commercial hub to other areas will have an “adverse effect” on our economy.

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