Vinod Rai
Vinod Rai

CAG clarifies to PM, says leaked report on coal blocks "exceedingly misleading"

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, March 22, 2012

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai today wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and clarified that the details carried in a newspaper report about a CAG report on coal blocks were exceedingly misleading.

“In the extant case the details being brought out were observations which are under discussion at a very preliminary stage and do not even constitute our pre-final draft and hence are exceedingly misleading," the letter said.
"Pursuant to clarification provided by the Ministry in exit conferences held on 9.02.2012 and 9.03.2012, we have changed our thinking," the CAG said.
"In fact it is not even our case that the unintended benefit to the allocatee is an equivalent loss to the exchequer. The leak of the initial draft causes great embarrassment as the Audit Report is still under preparation. Such leakage causes very deep anguish," he added.
The letter from the CAG to the Prime Minister came even as details of the draft report, carried as the front page lead by The Times of India, caused a major political storm and led to the adjournment for some time of both Houses of Parliament.
The newspaper quoted the CAG draft report as saying that the government had extended "undue benefits, totalling a "mind-boggling Rs 10.67 lakh crore, to commercial entitiesby giving them 155 coal acreags without auction between 2004 and 2009.
It said the beneficiaries included some 100 private companies as well as some public sector units in industries such as power, steel and cement.
"The CAG-estimated loss figure of Rs 10.67 lakh crore at March 31, 2011 prices is six times that of its highest presumptive loss figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore for the 2G scam. This, it says, is actually a conservative estimate, since it takes into account prices for the lowest grade of coal, not the median grade. CAG says even by the price levels prevailing at the time of allocations, the estimate of loss would be over Rs 6.31 lakh crore," the newspaper said.
The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the allotment of coal blocks, describing it as a major scam.
The issue cropped up in both Houses of Parliament, forcing their adjournment till noon. In the Lok Sabha, Janata Dal (United) members were on their feet, as soon as the House assembled, demanding an immediate discussion on the report. Similar scenes were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP raised the issue and the uproar that followed led to the adjournment of the House twice till noon.