No loss in coal block allocations: Govt

No loss in coal block allocations: Govt

The government Friday rejected its auditor's report on allocation of coal blocks in which it has indicated a Rs.1.85 lakh crore ($37 billion) loss to the exchequer, saying the notion of presumptive loss is flawed.

“If the coal is not being mined, there is no question of gain or loss... the notion of this presumptive loss is flawed,” Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said at a joint press conference here with Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal.

Chidambaram said there has been hardly any mining of coal from the allocated blocks which are taken into consideration by the auditor. “As long as coal remain in mother earth there is no loss,” he said.

Out of the 57 blocks considered by the CAG, mining was carried out in only block.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) last week revealed that lack of transparency in the allocation of coal blocks to private players resulted in the loss of a whopping Rs.1.85 lakh crore ($37 billion) to the exchequer.

Jaiswal said the government didn't agree with the CAG assessment. “We don't agree with the CAG report," he said.

Jaiswal said that he had asked the CAG to consult coal ministry official before preparing the final report. "But the CAG did not consult our officials," he said.

He said the CAG also did not take into consideration the views of Attorney General and the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on coal mining.

Chidambaram said it was the UPA government which brought about a change in policy for transparency and for that it was now being blamed.

"If you did nothing you will not be blamed; if you tried to change you will be blamed - is that the standard by which we will conduct our public affairs," he asked.

Asked about the future coarse of action on coal block allocations, Chidambaram said the government will take the decision taking into consideration the reports and views of the CAG, the Attorney General and the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM).

The finance minister made a fervent appeal to the opposition, especially the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to allow parliament to function from Monday.

Chidambaram said the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was ready to make a statement and debate the issue in parliament in whatever manner the opposition wanted.  

“The prime minister is willing to make a statement in the parliament. He is fully prepared to answer all the questions that may arise,” Chidambaram said.

Both houses of parliament were repeatedly adjourned for the fourth consecutive day Friday as BJP kept up its demand for the prime minister's resignation over irregularities in allocation of coal blocks.

“We are disappointed that BJP is unwilling to allow parliament to function and unwilling to discuss the matter on the floor of the house,” the finance minister said.

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