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Saturday, 18 August 2012

CAG: Coalgate Losses Officially Pegged At Rs 1.86 lakh Crore

NEW DELHI: It's official now. The Comptroller and Auditor General has said that the government extended windfall gains of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to private players by distributing coal blocks without bidding over years, escalating UPA's fight with the opposition over corruption amid the latter's calls for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation. 

The confirmation of the estimated gains to private players who walked away with 57 coal blocks came on Friday, months after TOI first reported the government's largesse. CAG's report, on what has now come to be known as 'Coalgate', was tabled in Parliament on Friday along with the auditor's findings on similar undue benefits for the promoters of Delhi International Airport Ltd and the Sasan ultra-mega power project in Madhya Pradesh. 

But the Coalgate report dwarfed the other two both because of the scale of money involved and the fact that it covers allocations during the period when the PM was in charge of the coal ministry. "The PM is morally, politically and personally responsible for this wrongful loss. He must seriously introspect on accepting the moral responsibility for this loss and quitting office," BJP leader Arun Jaitley said. 

TOI had on March 22 first published the CAG's draft report saying private and public sector companies made windfall gains of Rs 10.67 lakh crore by getting coal blocks without auction. The final report has pared the gains, as again reported first by TOI on May 22, because the auditor accepted the coal ministry's argument that the gains for public entities should be excluded. 

Besides, the calculation of gains in the final report has been done on the basis of extractable quantity of coal from open cast mines only since the ministry argued that underground mining was not as profitable. Even so, the final estimate of Rs 1.86 lakh crore surpasses the auditor's estimate of loss from the 2G spectrum scam.

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Edited By Cen Fox Post Team

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