Wednesday, March 28, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Father proposes, son opposes
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The Haryana Government’s decision to withdraw certain profitable mines from the public sector undertaking, Haryana Minerals Limited (HML), for leasing these to private persons has met with opposition from unexpected quarters.

The Leader of the BJP Legislature Party in the Haryana Assembly, Mr Krishan Pal Gujjar, had made a forceful plea against the government’s proposal on the floor of the House in not only the recently concluded Assembly session but also in the previous session. But the state government has remained unmoved.

The Haryana Congress President, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, too had opposed the move.

The state government could afford to ignore the views of Mr Gujjar and Mr Hooda by describing them as “crap”. But it has to sit up when the opposition comes from members of the ruling INLD itself, and to top it, if one of the opposing ruling party MLAs is none other than the younger son of the Chief Minister.

The Haryana Vidhan Sabha Committee on Public Undertakings has unanimously recommended that the “prime running areas” (profit-making mines) should remain with the HML so that the profits of the public sector undertaking could be enhanced.

The committee is headed by a senior INLD MLA, Mr Balwant Singh Maina. Mr Abhey Singh, the younger son of Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, who won the Rori Assembly seat with a record margin, is one of the members of the committee.

In its 45th report presented to the Assembly during its last session, the committee expressed concern over “privatisation of certain promising and prime running areas which were earlier operated by the HML.”

The nine-member committee has two Congress MLAs (Mr Chander Mohan and Mr Balbir Pal Shah) and one BJP MLA (Mr Gujjar). The rest of the members are either INLD MLAs or Independents supporting the government.

The committee’s report has put Mr Chautala in a dilemma. He is a great votary of democratic norms. Even the Governor’s Address highlighted the Chautala Government’s commitment to Mr Devi Lal’s dictum of “Lok Raj Lok Laj Se Chalta Hai”.

In view of the unanimous recommendation of the committee, it is to be seen if Mr Chautala who is also the Minister for Mining, will return the profit-making mines to the Haryana Minerals or go ahead with the move to hand over the mines to private hands. In parliamentary democracy, a committee of the House is considered to be a mini-House.

Over the years mines in Haryana have become tools of political patronage. The powers that be often lease out the mines to oblige MLAs and other protege. Mining has also become big business, given the virtually non-existent state regulatory mechanism to check pilferage of royalty and other levies.

It is not the first time that the HML has suffered at the hands of politicians. The report of the committee highlights another incident which shows how the politicians and the bureaucracy joined hands to cut at the roots of the HML, which had been making profits till 1997-98, the year in which it turned red.

In 1996, Messrs Ram Chander and Company (owned by the BJP MP from Faridabad, Mr Ram Chander Bainda) occupied 150 acre of the mining area of Manger owned by the HML due to “wrong demarcation”. For two years the “mistake” could not be rectified and the private party continued to explore the area which did not belong to it.

The list of bad and doubtful debts of the HML prepared by the committee makes interesting reading. Those who are on the honours list include a former Director-General of Haryana Police, Mr R. S. Singh (Rs 234 and Rs 365), a former bureaucrat, Mr K. C. Sharma (Rs 10,901.30); Mr Devinder Singh, IAS (Rs 2,372.10); Mr R. R. Jowel, IAS (Rs 384.95); Mr N. Bala Bhaskar, IAS (Rs 1,007.10); Mrs Jaiwanti Sheokand, IAS (Rs 471.10).

Mrs Krishana Singh, care of Mr Sampat Singh, the then Home Minister (Rs 2,094.75); Mr S. Dureja, Additional Judge (Rs 208.70); Mr B. N. Bajaj, the then District Judge, Narnaul (Rs 379.50); Mr Pasund, the then Judge, Narnaul (Rs 304.65); Mr Gorakhnath, the then Sessions Judge, Narnaul (Rs 462.20); Mr S. K. Jain, the then Legal Remembrancer, Haryana (Rs 561.70); and Mr S. B. Ahuja, the then District Judge, Narnaul (Rs 548.10). The list of bad debts is part of the committee’s report placed before the House.

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