NEW DELHI: There seems to be no end to the woes of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government. Ever since the alliance stormed back to power in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections its tenure has been marked with allegations of corruption and the Opposition has been claiming that the second term of the Manmohan Singh regime is the most corrupt in the history of India.
Even as the UPA was busy firefighting corruption allegations related to 2G spectrum allocation, Commonwealth Games, the Antrix-Devas deal and the Adarsh Housing Society, comes another bombshell from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
A CAG draft report says the government lost nearly Rs 10.7 lakh crore by not auctioning 155 coal blocks across the country. The alleged loss, reportedly more than six times bigger than 2G spectrum allocation loss where the CAG estimated the presumptive loss to be 1.76 lakh crore, benefited 100 private and government companies.
The CAG report gives yet another stick to the Opposition to beat the beleaguered government with, and they lost no time in demanding that a high-level enquiry be ordered into the allocation and the UPA Government step down immediately. The Samajwadi Party, which was one of the parties which bailed out the UPA during the amendments moved by the Opposition on the National Counter Terrorism Centre, has targeted the government and demanded a discussion on the CAG report in Parliament.
Even though government sources called the CAG report an old one, they said Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal would make a statement in Parliament and added that it was not a scam.
Jaiswal earlier said that he was not handling the Coal Ministry during the period when the coal blocks mentioned in the CAG report were allotted.
"I can't comment on the basis on any media reports. If we receive the CAG report, we will analyse it and then take action. I am coal minister only in the UPA-2 and during this time no coal block has been given," said Jaiswal.
However, the Opposition is already sharpening its knives and is ready to corner the government in Parliament.
"This Congress-led UPA Government is nothing but a government looting the country. It's a loot raj. We have given notices under various rules today and will discuss with the leaders and decide the plan of action. But this government has lost its sight to continue in power, and this is the worst scam and the worst loot," said BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Prakash Javadekar.
The Left Front led by Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) called the coal block allocation a serious issue and accused the UPA Government of not following the right policies.
"It is a serious scam, a very big scam. In fact all these scams are taking place because of the wrong policies pursued by the government furthering all corporate houses, big business houses in the country. Why the government did not go for the auction route? Mines, minerals are natural resources, they are the national assets. It is for the Prime Minister to explain the position of the government," said CPI Rajya Sabha MP D Raja.
"This is a bigger scam then 2G. This should be investigated. We raised this issue when we are in the government (in UPA-1)," CPI (M) Rajya Sabha MP Sitaram Yechury.
According to a report in 'The Times of India', 155 coal blocks were given to commercial entities without auction between 2004 and 2009. The estimated loss is six times higher than the presumptive loss figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore for the 2G spectrum allocation.
The 110-page draft report is expected to be tabled in Parliament after the Union Budget is passed.
Coal block beneficiaries include almost 100 private companies as well as some public sector units in industries such as power, steel and cement.
According to the CAG report the estimated "windfall gain" of Rs 6.31 lakh crore (PSUs - Rs 3.37 lakh crore and private companies - Rs 2.94 lakh crore) is based on the prices prevailing during the year of allocation on constant cost and price basis and as on March 31, 2011.
The amount at current prices would now work out to Rs 10.67 lakh crore (PSUs - Rs 5.88 lakh crore and private parties - Rs 4.79 lakh crore), the CAG said in the draft report.