Coalgate: PM took no action on repeated missives by BJP MP
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
New Delhi: BJP Lok Sabha member Hansraj Ahir, whose complaint has led the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) order the CBI to hold a preliminary enquiry (PE) into the allocation of coal blocks between 2006 and 2009, had been writing regularly to the PM since 2009 on the issue, but only got acknowledgements for reply.
According to Ahir, while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself regularly acknowledged his letters, the government took no action on the irregularities’ regarding allocation of coal blocks to various private entities.
Starting December 24, 2008, Ahir wrote to the PM about 10 letters, highlighting allocation of coal blocks to private entities without an open competitive bidding process. He had contended that since 2006 the ministry of coal had distributed “scores of coal blocks to some private owners along with few government companies”. He argued that a total of 49 billion tonnes of reserves exist in these blocks, of which 21.61 billion tonnes had gone to private firms. He said the allocations on a first-come-firstserve basis were taking place after the government had in June, 2004, decided to introduce competitive bidding regime.
Last Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had issued a detailed clarification, justifying the entire allocation procedure. “It may be stated that the allocation of coal blocks was never looked upon as a potential source for generating revenue for the Central Government. The intent of the government was to induce rapid development of infrastructure which was so very essential to keep the economy on a high growth trajectory. Hence the question of maximizing revenue does not arise at all. The idea of introduction of bidding cropped up only in the wake of increasing demand for captive coal blocks and the consequent necessity of putting in place a process, which is demonstrably more transparent,” the PMO said.
Though there is no evidence yet of a criminal conspiracy in allocation of coal blocks, there is an eerie parallel between 2G scam and this case, especially the studied silence of the government to persistent complaints by an Opposition leader.
In the case of 2G scam, Dr Subramanian Swamy and others wrote regularly to the PM and others, but there was no response. Later, the Supreme Court blamed the PMO for sitting on the repeated requests to Dr Singh for prosecution of former telecom minister A Raja.
The SC had said, “Unfortunately, those who were expected to give proper advice to Prime Minister and place full facts and legal position before him failed to do so…We have no doubt that if the Prime Minister had been apprised of the true factual and legal position regarding the representation made by the appellant, he would have surely taken appropriate decision.”
Ahir had not sought permission to prosecute anyone, but had been making demands for cancelling the coal block allocations.