Meet Hansraj Ahir, the man who brought coal fiasco under spotlight
NEW DELHI: The man who alleged foul play in coal block allocations to private companies seven years ago, passes by almost unnoticed in the din in Parliament. BJP MP, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, has only one motive – get all 142 coal block allotments cancelled.
Ahir has made a string of allegations against the government – from transfer of ownership by those allotted blocks, 35 allocations without clearance from the screening committee, to ‘ignoring’ Coal India and other public sector undertakings in favour of private companies during allocation.
Among numerous letters he exchanged with various authorities over the years is one from CIL in August last year, which said it had received no intimation from the coal ministry on its request made in 2008 to consider allocation of 138 coal blocks, with a total resource of 57.57 billion tonne, to sustain the long-term coal production programme to meet the country’s demand.
“The government gave CIL mostly underground blocks, which are difficult to mine. It preferred private companies over SAIL, NMDC, NALCO and RINL. CIL was given status of maharatna but the government itself is undermining it,” Ahir alleged.
It was in 2005 that Hansraj Gangaram Ahir first pointed fingers at the allocations when he was a member of the parliamentary standing committee on coal and steel. He then began a lone battle against the government, sending letters to the prime minister, finance minister and coal minister. In 2010, he managed the support of 19 NDA MPs to seek an audit of ‘loss’ incurred in the coal blocks allocation. It was in 2011 that BJP president Nitin Gadkari asked party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar to join Hansraj Ahir in ‘revealing facts’ about allocation of coal blocks.
“My fight was against loot of a national property. It has become a fight against corruption,” said the three-time MP from Chandrapur, who describes himself as “just one of the campaigners.” His interest in coal stems from the fact that he belongs to a coal-rich region and was a member of the parliamentary panel on coal and steel. He said it was after sending several letters to the prime minister and getting ‘no concrete response’ that he wrote to the Central Vigilance Commission in 2009, and to the Comptroller and Auditor General in 2010.
While BJP stalls Parliament, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir is of the view that his battle will be won when the government cancels all 142 allocations. Hansraj Ahir’s party has made it clear that it would not climb down from the demand for the prime minister’s resignation even if the allocations are negated.
Hansraj Ahir has fought for compensation for farmers in land acquisition for mines, after joining politics in 1980. Even as the coal blocks allocation has created a storm, Ahir continues with his campaign.
It was his and Javadekar’s complaint to CVC that formed the basis of a CBI investigation. CAG has estimated a presumptive loss of 1.86 lakh crore. According to BJP the loss figure would be much higher.