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Coal scam: BJP leaders blame it on Dr Singh

By Sheela Bhatt
August 17, 2012 16:19 IST
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Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley claimed on Thursday that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has to be directly blamed for the huge loss to the exchequer in allotment of coal mines. Swaraj said the PM can't be shielded behind ministers like A Raja or P Chidambaram as he did in the 2G spectrum scam.

She said this is the biggest scam of India. The government tabled the Comptroller and Auditor General's report that named 25 private companies who have gained out of 194 coal blocks a sum of Rs 1.86 lakh crore. The 'loot amount' assessed by CAG is more than 2G scam and has given the opposition reason to target Dr Singh who is considered Mr Clean in the ruling set up. 

Swaraj said, "PM Singh is directly responsible." She said the United Progressive Alliance's tenure is full of scams. Every other scam is bigger than the last one. The coal scam is a new chapter in history of corruption in India.

After the resignation of then coal minister Shibu Soren in July 2004, Dr Singh was in-charge of the coal ministry.

Under his leadership, lots of coal blocks were allotted on recommendation and without waiting to set up proper procedure for competitive bidding. Birla, Tata and Jindal benefited in a big way, claims the CAG. Although, enough noises were

made to opt for competitive bidding, by the concerned ministries and bureaucrats nothing much happened.

The coal blocks, one of the most precious resources, were given away on recommendation basis. 

Jaitley said in a press conference, "That scam has happened due to inefficiency, due to lack of leadership, policy paralysis of the government and due to incompetence of the government."

He said that in 2006 the decision was taken to change the policy of allotment of coal blocks. But there was 'intentional delay' to pass the amendments in the policy.

Meanwhile, private companies made huge profits. The government will be unable to answer why the necessary amendments in policy were not made between 2006 and 2012. 

The CAG report says that the delay in introduction of the process of competitive bidding has rendered the existing process beneficial to private companies and it was disadvantageous to the government. Dr Singh knew it but the allotment of coal blocks of million of tons continued.

The estimate of loss is based on the average cost of production and average sale price of Coal India in the year 2010-11.

BJP's spokesman Prakash Javadekar said the government should resign over such huge scam.

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
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