CAG holds its estimate: defends Rs.1.86 lakh crore loss
This was the first meeting of the PAC on the issue of coal block allocation
There were heated discussions between the members of the ruling Congress party and opposition members led by Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting on the issue of allocation coal blocks by the union government as the Comptroller and
Auditor General (CAG) strongly defended the figure of Rs.1.86 lakh crore calculated as loss to the exchequer.
The friction between the Congress and the opposition started soon after members of the Congress party started questioning CAG on the loss
figure of Rs.1.86 lakh crore and asked how the CAG calculated the figure. The meeting was attended CAG Vinod Rai and Coal secretary SK
“The CAG chose the period of 2004 to 2008 in the report because screening committee had met 14 times in this period but 175 coal blocks
were allocated whereas between 1993 to 2003, the screening committee met for 22 times and 41 blocks were allocated. The union government had made a decision that everyone in the country will get access to power by 2012 which led to lot of companies applying for coal blocks and setting up power plants,” said a source who was present at the meeting.
The grilling of CAG members was started by Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Sanjay Nirupam who wanted to know how the CAG reached
this astronomical figure. This is the first meeting of the PAC on the issue of coal block allocation.
While defending the case, CAG members replied that the report prepared by the Constitutional authority was already accepted by the union
government and they have submitted it before the Parliament. “The figure of Rs.1.86 lakh crore was a conservative figure,” said a source
quoting the CAG. BJP members supported CAG arguments that the loss figure of Rs. 1.86 lakh crore was conservative one.
CAG members argued that if the union government didn’t agree to the figure of loss calculated by the constitutional authority, the United
Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was free to do its own analysis and reach a figure of loss on the basis of the procedures followed by
the union government between 2004-2009 when coal blocks were allocated to private companies free of cost.
“CAG members replied that union government had already accepted the findings of the report and it was presented in the Parliament. If the
union government didn’t agree with the findings then it should carry out an independent study and find out how much loss was caused to the
exchequer because of allocation of coal blocks,” said those in the know of the development.
CAG members strongly argued that the figure of loss to exchequer was calculated on the basis of the cost of coal calculated by Coal India
and not on the cost of imported coal or revenue generated through e-auctioning of coal by companies.
In the course of the meeting, CAG also explained that it was the duty of the constitutional authority to indicate the magnitude of the loss
and financial gains made and the main issue was lack of transparency in the procedures followed by the union government.
Read more on: