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Coal auctions vindicate CAG stand : Sitharaman

The CAG had in a report in 2012 criticised the UPA government for allocating coal blocks in a non-transparent manner.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | Ahmedabad/gandhinagar/new Delhi, New Delhi | Published: February 20, 2015 1:11:36 am

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has been vindicated in its criticism of of the UPA government’s allocation of natural resources, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday.

Reminding that institutions like CAG are doing their best, she said they deserve respect for their work and undermining them would not do good for the country.

The CAG had in a report in 2012 criticised the UPA government for allocating coal blocks in a non-transparent manner, which it alleged had led to loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the exchequer.

The report had generated nation wide outcry, which put the Manmohan Singh government to considerable discomfort. In a judgment in September, the Supreme Court canceled allocation of 204 coal blocks after holding their allotment as arbitrary and illegal.

“Certainly the CAG’s position has been vindicated but I am underlining the larger issue here…our position has been vindicated,” she told reporters on the sidelines of an event here. She argued that the CAG’s report in 2012 was unfairly criticised.

Institutions (like CAG) are doing their best and “all of us will have to respect the way in which these institutions do their job and any attempt to undermine or ridicule them is not going to do good for this country,” the minister said.

The NDA government has begun auctioning the cancelled coal mines and has put 19 mines on the block so far of which 15 have been electronically auctioned.

The coal blocks were earlier allocated through a screening committee mechanism.

Coal minister Piyush Goyal said allocating the 204 coal blocks through auction, would fetch Rs 15 lakh crore over the next 30 years for the respective states besides ensuring adequate fuel supply. “Overall the entire economy will get a push with adequate fuel reaching these end-use plants,” Goyal told reporters.

JPL retains two blocks it lost; UltraTech, Hindalco win one each

New Delhi: Naveen Jindal-promoted Jindal Power (JPL) on Thursday won the bids for two coal blocks — Gare Palma IV/2 and 3 in Chhattisgarh which it had held earlier, while Aditya Birla group firms Hindalco Industries bagged the Gare Palma IV/5 mine in the same state, and UltraTech Cement won the Bicharpur coal mine in Madhya Pradesh.

The two blocks won by JPL are the ones it had held before the allocation of these along with 203 other mines were cancelled by the Supreme Court last September, which held their allotment as arbitrary and illegal.

Shares of Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL) zoomed nearly 26 per cent on Wednesday to close at Rs 195.30, on the BSE.

On the sixth day of the ongoing auction, JPL won the bid for these power sector mines by quoting a price of Rs 108 a tonne, while Gare Palma IV/5 previously held by Monnet Ispat Limited was bagged by Hindalco at a price of Rs 3,502 per tonne.

The two blocks together have reserves of 155.5 million tonne (MT). JPL beat the likes of Adani Power Maharashtra, Reliance Geothermal Power and Sesa Sterlite.

UltraTech Cement bid Rs 3,003 per tonne. The estimated Rs 8,744.7 crore mine has extractable reserves of 29.12 MT.

Ultratech beat the likes of ACC, Hindalco Industries, Hindustan Zinc, Jaypee Cement Corp to emerge the winner. ENS

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