Finally, the UPA turned around and hit back on Friday, with finance minister P Chidambaram questioning the comptroller and auditor general’s (CAG) logic behind arriving at the Rs 1.86-lakh-crore loss on the allocation of coal blocks.
The auditor had argued that the loss incurred while allocating 57 coal blocks to private companies was in potential revenues, but Chidambaram asked, “If coal has not been mined and if it remains buried inside mother earth, where is the loss?”
The minister, joined by coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal and law minister Salman Khurshid at a press conference here, said the BJP was shying away from a debate in Parliament and causing disruptions, instead.
He said, “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is ready to offer a statement on the floor of the House on this issue.”
Jaiswal said that of the 57 blocks put under the scanner by the CAG, only one had become functional so far.
In response to the CAG’s observations that the law ministry communicated on July 28, 2006 that coal block bidding could be introduced through administrative instructions, Khurshid said his ministry was consulted on the legal implications of decision already taken.
Chidambaram said it was the persistent opposition from the governments of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Odisha and West Bengal that affected the coal ministry’s attempt to implement the bidding process for coal block allocations. “You need to take the states on board (to implement such decisions).”