Sucheta Dalal :Coal-gate scam: Deliberately obtuse policies?
Sucheta Dalal

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Coal-gate scam: Deliberately obtuse policies?  

April 3, 2012

The Coal-gate scam compares well with the largesse distributed by telecom minister A Raja, to those who bagged 2G spectrum

Sucheta Dalal

Once again, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) seems set to provide yeoman service to India by putting an official stamp on the value of national resources—valuable coal reserves—that were selectively transferred to business houses. According to media reports, CAG estimates that the ‘loss’ or ‘unintended benefit’ to private and public companies that bagged more than 100 lucrative coal blocks without auctions, is as high as Rs10.76 lakh crore over the past 25 years. Its report also says that, although a competitive bidding process was proposed in 2004, the government has dragged its feet over appropriate legislation for de-nationalisation and has given out coal blocks on a case-by-case basis. In India, this never happens without payments and kickbacks.

In effect, the ‘Coal-gate’ scam compares well with the largesse distributed by telecom minister, A Raja, to those who bagged 2G spectrum. Typically, the government’s immediate reaction to the leak of this yet-to-be finalised report is three-fold. First, deny and discredit the report (the ministry called it ‘fallacious and erroneous’); second, defend its actions by saying coal reserves are still nationalised and the current policy does not provide for auctions; third, attempt to call back captive mines that are not yet operational.


-- Sucheta Dalal


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