Auditor triple whammy hits govt in Parliament
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Three mega infrastructure investments in power, airports and coal made through government-private sector partnerships were slammed by the national auditor for causing huge losses to the public on Friday. The criticism triggered renewed charges of corruption from the opposition, even as ministers rebutted the arguments hotly.
Reports by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India on the allocation of 57 coal blocks, the Delhi International Airport and on the award of ultra mega power projects created a political storm as soon as they were tabled in Parliament.
The BJP demanded a response from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying the CAG was referring to coal blocks allocated between 2004 and 2006, when Singh was in charge of the coal ministry. The report did not name the PM, but noted that giving out blocks without bidding led to the exchequer losing Rs 1,85,591 crore over the life of the blocks.
"This is not just a scam, it's a case of murder and loot. We would like an answer from the Prime Minister on charges made by the CAG," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said minutes after the report was tabled in Rajya Sabha.
Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said bidding was not chosen as there were conflicting opinions from the law ministry at that time; however, the ministry had adopted a transparent process.
Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy accused the auditor of exceeding its brief. "According to me, the CAG is not following its mandate, which... I wish to bring to notice."
The civil aviation ministry said its final points were not included in the report on the Delhi airport.
The CAG reports add to the ones issued since 2010 on telecom, oil and gas, and on the preparation for the Commonwealth Games that have rocked Singh's government repeatedly, and led to a jail term for then telecom minister A Raja.
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