What is ‘Coalgate’?


Crime Minister

Currently, in India, the word Coalgate, sounding similar to the name of a popular toothpaste, means the report published on August 17, 2012 by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (C&A G or CAG).

The organisations subject to the audit of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India are:

  • All the Union and State Government departments and offices including the Indian Railways and Posts and Telecommunications.
  • About 1,200 public commercial enterprises controlled by the Union and State governments, namely, government companies and corporations.
  • Around 400 non-commercial autonomous bodies and authorities owned or controlled by the Union or the States.
  • Over 4,400 authorities and bodies substantially financed from the Union or State revenues.

The auditor general’s report has questioned the government’s procedure of awarding coal mining concessions to private companies without competitive bidding. It states that as on March 11, 2011, there has been a lack of transparency in the allocation of coal blocks to private participants. The report does not charge criminal misconduct by Manmohan Singh’s vulnerable coalition government. However, the report has raised issues concerning the non-transparent procedure of awarding coal blocks by an inter-ministerial committee. The report alleges that this unduly helped private and state power and steel companies leading to an unrealized revenue of Rs 1.85 lakh crore ($37 billion) to the exchequer; even so, industry watchers and the government doubt this figure.

The CAG report has turned into a provender for the opposition lawmakers.

On Monday, August 27, the parliament resembled a noisy theatre. The BJP lawmakers and members of the ruling Congress party engaged in a shouting match. Manmohan Singh appeared in the lower house of parliament. He submitted a comprehensive four-page rebuttal of the main allegations in the auditor’s report. He managed to mumble a few words only as the uproar from the opposition forced him to sit down. They raised slogans such as “Prime minister tender your resignation.”

A few minutes later, Singh tried to deliver the same rebuttal speech in the upper house of parliament. He was silenced once again by similar chanting.

In his written statement, the Prime Minister has denied that his government had done anything wrong. He blamed the opposition parties, who ruled the major coal-rich states, for the delay in introducing competitive bidding for coal-fields. He added that the findings of the state auditor were “clearly disputable.”

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  1. Pingback: How to sell a country in 5 easy steps. « EcoDig

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