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BJP slams PM over 'Rs 85,000-crore coal scam'

Last updated on: May 23, 2011 20:31 IST

BJP slams PM over 'Rs 85,000-crore coal scam'

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A Correspondent in New Delhi


Just a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh celebrated two years of the UPA-II rule, the Bhartiya Janata Party slapped a Rs 85,000-crore (Rs 850 billion) coal scam on him, claiming his direct culpability in the 'loot' as he held the portfolio between 2006 and 2009 since after coal minister Shibu Soren had resigned.

The modus operandi of this scam too is like that of the 2G scam where "rules were bent, definitions changed, modalities distorted to benefit the allottees, many sold the coal blocks to other companies at hefty premium," BJP's Vidarbha MP Hansraj Ahir and BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar claimed at a press conference in New Delhi.

They alleged that illegal gratification was obtained in this case by bringing in a Bill in Parliament in 2006 and then keeping it hanging for five years to allow the massive loot. They demanded an immediate probe monitored by the Supreme Court and a special audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

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Photographs: Reuters
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BJP slams PM over 'Rs 85,000-crore coal scam'

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The scam started with the introduction of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill in 2006 in Parliament for auction of mines that triggered a rush and the government went on surreptitiously gifting coal blocks free of cost to 143 private companies without waiting for passage of the Bill, the BJP charged.

The Bill was passed only in 2010 while the loot went on unchecked, the largest Opposition party in Parliament said.

Ahir and Javadekar claimed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had an excuse that the arrested former telecom minister A Raja had carried out the 2G scam behind his back, but he cannot have any such alibi as he headed the coal ministry and sat over the coal blocks frittered away for three years to 51 companies in 2006, 19 in 2007, 41 in 2008 and 32 in 2009.

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Image: BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar.
Photographs: Rediff Archive
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BJP slams PM over 'Rs 85,000-crore coal scam'

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Who are these companies that minted money? The existing policy allowed allotment of the coal blocks to the actual user industries, namely steel, cement and power plants, while those gifted the blocks had neither any industry nor even any licence to start such an industry to get the blocks. They were all paper companies, the BJP leaders charged.

"The culpability of the prime minister is clearly established as he had presided over this loot of precious natural resources" allowing fake and bogus companies that either sold the licences or made money by selling coal that they were supposed to utilise in own industries, Ahir said.

He said the going rate as per the business circles is Rs 50 per tonne and thus more than Rs 85,000 crore changed hands during the four-year-long coal scam.


Photographs: Reuters
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