Slamming the BJP for stalling Parliament over coal blocks allotment,Union Minister of State for Industries and Commerce Jyotiraditya Scindia today claimed that some close associates of top BJP leaders like Nitin Gadkari,Sushma Swaraj and Narendra Modi too had been alloted coal blocks.
“Gadkari’s close associate Ajay Sancheti,Swaraj’s close associate Reddy brothers and the Adani Group linked closely to Modi and Prakash Industries of Prakash Agrawal,said to be associated with the RSS too have been awarded coal blocks in the manner that allotments were made to various private companies,” he said.
The coal blocks allotment to the top BJP leaders’ close associates clearly reflected that there was a wide gap between their conduct and stand on the issue,Scindia said.
“There is a wide gap between the BJP’s stand and conduct of its leaders,” Scindia said and flayed the saffron party for creating ruckus in Parliament and outside on the coal blocks allotment issue to press for the Prime Minister’s resignation in the alleged scam on the basis of the CAG report.
Scindia defended the coal blocks allotment process adopted by the UPA government and said it had adopted the same process set by its predecessor,the NDA government which had allotted 37 coal blocks to the private companies merely on the basis of application by the allottees and on the recommendations of the state governments having coal reserves.
The UPA government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had wanted to put in place a legal framework for allotment of coal blocks through competitive bidding but it was mostly the BJP-led governments in Rajasthan,Chhattisgarh,Jharkhand,Madhya Pradesh,besides the West Bengal government that had opposed the transparent mechanism proposed for coal blocks allotment,he said.
The state governments had opposed the competitive bidding process on the ground that the benefits of the funds generated from coal blocks allotment would go to the Centre and not to them,Scindia said.
Due to strident opposition to competitive bidding process by the state governments,the UPA government set up a screening committee comprising central and state government officials,to take a final call on the coal blocks allotment and under this process,145 coal blocks were awarded to the private companies between 2006 and 2008,the minister said.
Scindia said that the UPA government had always wanted to put in place a framework for coal blocks allotment through competitive bidding in a transparent manner to set an example at the global stage inspite of the fact that the coal rich countries like Australia,New Zealand and Malayasia have been allotting blocks against applications for the same.
On the CAG report highlighting a scam of Rs 1.86 lakh crore in the allotment of coal blocks in an irregular manner by the UPA government,Scindia swept aside the auditor’s calculation of loss of revenue arising out of the coal blocks allotment.
“It appears that the methodology adopted by the CAG to assess loss to exchequer on account of coal blocks allotment is wrong as the quality of coal of different blocks and extraction costs have not been computed to arrive at the figure,” he added.
Scindia,however,said that he was not trying to denigrade the consitutional authority,but it was not always necessary to agree with its report and recalled that the BJP
too had in the past trashed the CAG reports on various irregularities during the NDA rule.
He said that he disagreed with the CAG’s ‘casual’ assessment of the loss of revenue to the exchequer by way of the coal blocks allotment,but added that he was not in favour of casting aspersion or imputing motive on the part of the national auditor.
On the alleged irregularities in the coal blocks allotment,the Union Minister said that the CBI was probing the matter and that if any irregularities have taken place
then the guilty persons and beneficiary companies will be brought to justice.
“CBI jaanch kar rahi hai…dudh ka dudh aur paani ka paani ho jayega (The CBI is investigating the matter and the truth will emerge)”,he said.
On the non-extraction of coal most of those companies benefitting from coal blocks allotment,the Union Minister said that there were procedural issues like delay in obtaining environmental clearance and land acquistion,but at the same time steps have been taken to fix responsibility of the allottees and de-allocation of coal blocks could be among stern action against the beneficiaries.
An Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) has been set up to review status of the coal blocks and take appropriate action against the allottees if they had received coal blocks in
irregular manner or failed to go ahead with extraction of coal to meet the purpose for which allotments were made to them,Scindia said.