Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, the MP from Maharashtra and whistleblower in the coal block allocation controversy, tells Gyan Varma that the Centre should cancel allocation of all blocks. Edited excerpts:
When did you write the first letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to probe the allocation of coal blocks and what was his response?
I had written the first letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in December 2006 and had also written to then finance minister P Chidambaram. I didn’t get a favourable response from PM and finance minister. I have written more than 30 letters of which 12 letters were written to PM. The PM is responsible for the scam because he chose to look the other way when this scam was taking place. Finally, I wrote to CVC in October 2009 and to CAG in November 2010 which prompted the investigation.
What is the basis of your allegation that companies sold off coal blocks?
According to my estimates, 50 per cent of the companies have either sold off or they are in the process of do it by taking huge amounts of money. Any block is not sold for less than Rs 500 crore depending on the reserves.
The CAG has brought down its estimate of loss to the exchequer from Rs 10.6 lakh crore to Rs 1.8 lakh crore. What are your views?
It seems that the coal ministry didn’t give all the documents to CAG that is why the amount is less. I think the loss to the exchequer is not less than Rs 50 lakh crore. This scam is bigger that 2G spectrum allocation scam.
What was the policy of coal block allocation adopted during the NDA regime? Did coal block allocation during NDA regime not constitute of scam?
The same process was followed between 1993-2004. The Centre should cancel the allocation of all blocks. The government had decided on competitive bidding in 2004 but the policy has not been implemented even in 2012.
If all coal blocks are de-allocated, what will happen to the investment running into thousands of crore already made in the end-use projects?
There are only 30 blocks where mining has started and mining by private companies is not more than 10. The government should device a policy to deal with private companies who were given coal blocks.