New Delhi: A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's invitation, Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to inaugurate the Birbhum coal block as his presence at the event may send "all the wrong signals".
In a letter, he suggested to Modi to wait for proper environmental clearances and a rehabilitation package before inaugurating the coal block alloted to the West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited.
"I feel that your presence at a formal inauguration of the project after the Durga Puja festival may send all the wrong signals. I believe that the involvement of the Prime Minister in such an event may indicate that all the necessary formalities have been completed and that coal mining is likely to be operational within a very short time. This, in turn, is likely to subvert the very process of environmental clearances and the rehabilitation package," Dasgupta said.
He also said that the area of Birbhum, where the coal blocks are located, is populated by the vulnerable Adivasi community who have been living there for long and have registered their concerns of coal mining in the area.
"The plans are at a very early stage and there has been no study of its likely social and environmental consequences. The process of securing environmental clearances has not yet begun," he wrote.
The MP said Birbhum district had been gripped by political violence in recent weeks and "there are serious charges of police high-handedness", adding that there was a suspicion that violence may be triggered by "land sharks".
He said the impression of all-round clearance will "set in motion a spate of unofficial fund collection" and added that the possible scale of "distortion is incalculable".
This comes a dayDasgupta's letter comes a day after Banerjee met and invited Modi to inaugurate the coal block which she said will employ "lakhs of people".