It is the responsibility of the state government concerned to protect the mining reserves, including coal reserves, in the state, Union coal minister Prahlad Joshi said in the industrial township of Durgapur on Thursday.
However, he refused to make any comment on the ongoing probe by different central agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the multi- crore coal smuggling scam.
"An investigation in the matter is underway. So, I am not in a position to make any comment on the matter. But preventing coal theft is the responsibility of the state government concerned. Not just coal but protection of any mining reserve in a state is the responsibility of the state government concerned," the Union coal minister said.
He was in Durgapur to make a survey of the coal mines of Eastern Coalfield Limited (ECL) scattered over West Burdwan district as well as to prepare the blueprint for future development of these mines.
Speaking on the occasion, the Union minister also refuted the claims of the West Bengal government and ruling Trinamool Congress that since the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is responsible for the security of the coal mines the onus of coal theft or coal smuggling lies with the Union government.
"You have to remember that although CISF is responsible for the coal mines security, in case of any coal theft the central forces register the FIR with the local police. But unfortunately, in many cases such FIRs are not accepted.
I would like to remind not just the West Bengal government, but all the state governments having coal mine reserves that the responsibility of protecting mine reserves in a state lies with the state government concerned. Let there be no political argument in the matter," the Union coal minister said.