Transport minister cornered on CAG report

Transport minister cornered on CAG report

Transport minister cornered on CAG report

Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday came under fire in the Rajya Sabha, where the Congress forced seven adjournments.

They were demanding Gadkari’s resignation for the alleged violation of norms by his company in securing a government loan 13 years ago.

Aggressive Congress members were up on their feet from the word go and did not relent throughout the day. The House was finally adjourned for the day without transacting any business. House Chairman and Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s repeated appeals on allowing the Question Hour, did not yield any result.

Congress members used a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General – tabled in the House on May 1 – to corner the Cabinet minister.

The CAG report shows how Gadkari’s company Purti Sakhar Karkhana Limited not only violated the government rules and norms in availing the loan, but also did not fulfil the loan conditions.

Raising the issue in the Zero Hour, Congress leader Shantaram Naik said Purti Sakhar Karkhana Limited (PSKL) did not meet the conditions for availing the interest subsidy from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

The CAG report found that Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency sanctioned the loan for a renewable energy project but Gadkari’s company deviated from it and utilised the money in a 100 per cent coal-based project.

Over the years, as the loan amount swelled up to about Rs 84.12 crore with accumulation of interest and other charges, the company returned Rs 71.35 crore as one time settlement (OTS) in December 2009, two years after the loan was declared as non-performing assets (NPA) by the IREDA.

“This resulted in a sacrifice of Rs 12.77 crore,” said the report that named the former BJP president as one of the PSKL directors, who gave personal guarantee for the loan.

The company continued drawing interest subsidy till 2009, even as the loan given to it became NPA in March 2007 itself as per banking norms.

Besides, the company commissioned the project in March 2007 while it was supposed to be done in February 2004.

The Congress had earlier demanded a time-bound judicial probe and sought Gadkari's resignation.

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