Process of awarding coal blocks caused $37 bn loss: Auditor

The lack of transparency in the allocation of coal blocks to private players resulted in a loss of a whopping Rs.1.85 lakh crore ($37 billion) to the exchequer as on March 11 last year, India's official auditor has said in a report.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), in the report tabled in parliament Friday, said this was because the process of bringing transparency in the award of coal blocks that was to commence in June 2004 got delayed due to various reasons.

"In the meantime, 194 net coal blocks, aggregate 44,440 million tonnes were allocated to different government and private parties up to March 31, 2011," said the much-awaited report.

"The government could have tapped part of this financial benefit by expediting decision on competitive biding for allocation of coal blocks," the report added, while observing that most allocations were made on the basis of recommendations from state governments.

The auditor report also recommended immediate steps to allot mines through competitive bidding process in a bid to bring about objectivity and transparency in the process and in the larger context of power for all this year.

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