Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) Vinod Rai on Friday said the country's apex auditor would have failed in its duty had it not highlighted the financial gains made by private firms in its latest report on coal blocks allocation, which resulted in Rs. 1.86 lakh crore loss to the nation.
In his presentation before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, Rai defended the loss figure given by the country's apex auditor in its latest report of allocation of coal blocks between 2004 and 2009.
"We would not have done our duty if we had not mentioned the likely financial gain..." Rai was quoted by sources as having told the PAC.
Congress members on the panel disagreed with Rai's figures and even called them "imaginary", but the BJP members stated that the C&AG figures were actually conservative.
Replying to questions on why the CAG chose to audit the block allocations only between 2004 and 2009, Rai said this was a "watershed" period since several firms had bid for captive coal blocks for thermal power plants due to the government's 'power for all' programme.
He said the CAG gave examples that while the committee met 22 times and allocated only 41 blocks between 1993 and 2003, it met 14 times between 2004 and 2008 and allocated 175 blocks.
Rai said the calculation of gains in the final report was made on the basis of extractable quantity of coal from open cast mines only since the ministry argued that underground mining was not as profitable.
Later in the evening, coal secretary SK Srivastava was learnt to have been grilled for his ministry's failure to put across its view before the CAG when the report was being finalised.