India: Manmohan Singh dubs CAG report on coal blocks as 'flawed'

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday dubbed the Comptroller Auditor General’s (CAG) report on coal block allocation as “flawed”.

In his 32-point statement, PM Singh took full responsibility of Coal Ministry’s decisions taken place between 2005-09.

However, he said that allegations of impropriety are “without basis and unsupported by the facts.”

“The CAG says that competitive bidding could have been introduced in 2006 by amending the existing administrative instructions. This premise of the CAG is flawed,” he added.

The Prime Minister asserted that the observation of the CAG that the process of competitive bidding could have been introduced by amending the administrative instructions is based on the opinion expressed by the Department of Legal Affairs in July and August 2006.

“CAG’s observation is based on a selective reading of the opinions given by the Department of Legal Affairs,” Singh further said.

Notably, the main opposition – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sought Singh’s resignation over the issue.  It has also demanded cancellation of all 142 coal blocks.

Coal mining scam, popularly known as ‘coalgate’ in Indian press, is allegedly a corruption scandal in which the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) office accused the Government of India for providing the nation's coal deposits to private and state-run entities in an irregular and arbitrary manner instead of publicly auctioning them off to the highest bidder, resulting in a loss of approximately Rs 186,000 crore (US$33.67 billion) to the exchequer during the period 2004-2009.

There were leaks of the report in media in March 2012 which claimed the figure to be around Rs 1,060,000 crore (US$191.86 billion).

It is called by the Indian media as the ‘Mother of all Scams’.
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