Jharkhand, irked by auto-debit of Rs 15,000 Crore, threatens to stop supply of minerals

Strained relations between Jharkhand and the Union Government are on the brink of a breakdown with chief minister Hemant Soren threatening to fight for the state’s rights and stop movement of minerals

Jharkhand, irked by auto-debit of Rs 15,000 Crore, threatens to stop supply of minerals

VP Sharan

Accusing the Union Government of unilaterally taking away Rs 15 thousand Crore, the miffed chief minister of the mineral rich state Hemant Soren on Saturday hinted at stopping the movement of minerals, if push came to shove.

A sum of Rs 1417.50 Crore, it is learnt, was auto debited from Jharkhand’s account with the Reserve Bank of India without consulting the state. The amount was adjusted against dues the state owed to Damodar Valley Corporation.

Jharkhand argues that the previous BJP Government in the state had run up arrears close to Rupees six thousand Crore but the Centre did not take recourse to auto-debit then. It also accuses the Centre of not paying its share of the GST and Cess on the pretext of economic slowdown. The state’s finances have also been stretched and the auto-debit has made it precarious, it says. It also accuses the BJP government in the state headed by Raghubar Das of being extravagant and spending recklessly.

Hemant Soren on Saturday lashed out at the Centre and declared that he would prefer to fight rather than beg the central government for funds. The state had a history of struggle and if the Centre did not stop arm-twisting the state for political reasons, it would be responsible for the consequences. He referred to the blockade on the movement of minerals before the creation of the state to hint that a similar agitation would affect many parts of the country.

The Centre was trying to cripple the state’s finances, Soren alleged, forcing it to borrow from the market at a time of great economic hardship. “Why was the due not debited during the five-year tenure of the BJP government in the state,” he wondered aloud. The amount was debited despite the state government’s request last month to the Union Energy Ministry, he added.

Jharkhand Government sources claim that the Centre owes the state government Rs 2982 crore by way of GST, Rs 38500 crores from Coal India and SAIL and an additional Rs 3300 crores from Coal India by way of cess.

These sources also blame the previous BJP Government in the state for profligacy and for bleeding the state white. The previous government borrowed Rs 37,257 Crores from RBI, Rs 1761.53 Crores from Government of India, Rs 5553.4 Crores under the Uday Scheme and Rs 10,533.63 under negotiated loan. The BJP Government also borrowed a sum of Rs 913.56 Crores as advance. Consequently, the present government is paying an interest of Rs 10,000 Crore per annum for the loans.

Finance Minister Rameshwar Oraon says it may not be possible for the State Government to pay even the salaries and pension to the officials and employees as the Government is left with a paltry sum of not more than Rs 1000 Crore while Rs 2000 Crores are required every month to pay salaries and pension.

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