Jharkhand CM accuses Prime Minister of arm-twisting, seeks meeting to sort out issue

Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren wrote to the Prime Minister on Thursday and accused the Centre of singling out the state and debiting Rs 1,417 Crore from the state’s account in the Reserve Bank of India

Jharkhand CM accuses Prime Minister of arm-twisting, seeks meeting to sort out issue
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VP Sharan

The Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren has sought to a meeting with the Prime Minister to explain why the auto-debit of Rs 1,417 Crore to pay outstanding dues to the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) was legally, morally and politically unacceptable.

In his letter, Soren has drawn the attention of the PM to the fact that other states with outstanding dues to the DVC have been spared while singling out Jharkhand. He also alleges that a huge outstanding was allowed to pile up during the previous BJP Government in the state headed by Raghubar Das—without once resorting to auto-debit. The chief minister also alleges that the state was not only not taken into confidence, but the Centre turned down a request not to do this in times of a pandemic and when the state is going through a financial crisis.

Describing the auto-debit as unconstitutional, immoral and a direct assault on the federal structure, the Jharkhand chief minister has urged the PM to intervene and restore the amount.

Jharkhand CM accuses Prime Minister of arm-twisting, seeks meeting to sort out issue
Jharkhand CM accuses Prime Minister of arm-twisting, seeks meeting to sort out issue

In his two-page letter, Soren urged the PM to direct the Union Power Ministry against resorting to auto-debit. He has also urged that the Tripartite Agreement between Jharkhand Government, the Union Government and the Reserve Bank of India meant for the purpose be extended to include the Union Ministry of Coal too as in power generation in the country still utilizes coal substantially and Jharkhand not getting its arrears on coal affects its capacity to pay for energy.

He says that though other states owe much higher amount of outstanding dues to DVC, they have been spared but Jharkhand, dominated by adivasis, dalits and minorities, has been singled out. Although the outstanding payable to DVC by Jharkhand is Rs 5500 Crore, the bulk of it was accumulated in the five years of the previous BJP government in the state. Despite the mandatory provision in the Agreement to realise outstanding dues within 90 days, this was not done during the previous Government.

The Chief Minister alleged that the arbitrary and draconian such step to auto debit the amount was done to arm twist the state to avail of the loan facility provided under the ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ programme launched by the Prime Minister.

Requesting the PM to annul the auto debited amount and refunding it in the spirit of cooperative federalism and in the interests of the underprivileged poor people of the tribal dominated state.

The Chief Minister has sought permission for him and his cabinet colleagues to call on the PM in person.

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