Previous government 'gave away' coal mines like it was a handkerchief: Modi

Paris: Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the previous government of "giving away" coal mines as easily as one would give a pen, a handkerchief or even a piece of paper. And his government through the auctioning of just 20 of the 204 coal mines had got Rs.2 lakh crore.

Addressing a civic reception by the Indian diaspora, Modi said that "204 coal mines were just given away like, "come and take my pen, take this hanky, this piece of paper" but even while giving a pen you will think twice, but the 204 coal mines were just given away", he alleged.

"A storm was kicked up... the court raised the issue and it even went up to that of the prime minister," he said referring to the CBI court summons to former prime minister Manmohan Singh in the coal allocation issue. "But I don't want to indulge in criticism, but the Supreme Court then waved the stick (on the issue)," he said.

Modi said when the CAG pegged the loss from coal allocation at Rs. 1lakh 76,000 crore "No one believed it".

"But when we auctioned, only 20 of the 204 mines were auctioned. And we got Rs.2 lakh crore. Only 10 percent of the work has been done, and the treasury has got Rs.2 lakh crore," he said.

"If any government does this then the people will say that run the government for 25 years," Modi said to loud cheers.

He said the government has decided that the money will go to the respective state government, for making factories, for education and infrastructure projects.

"Gujarat does not have coal mines, or the newspapers would have criticized the move," he said.

The coal auction money would go to Odisha, Bihar, Jharkahnd, West Bengal "where there is possibility of progress, and I have to take them forward", he said.

He said through the Jan Dhan projects 14 crore people have got bank accounts, which is bigger than the population of France.

Modi said the government has given cooking gas subsidy to 13 crore bank accounts, adding that it helped end corruption.

He also referred to his move of "give it up", urging the well-off people to give up their cooking gas cylinder subsidy.

"And I have seen that 2 lakh people of their own volition have stopped taking subsidy... If you are well off, give it up, now 3.5 lakh people have left it, now we are saving money," he said.

Modi said the money the government got through this would be transferred to the accounts of those who still use stoves that use wood so that they can buy cooking cylinders.

"Climate change will be tackled this way," he said.

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