NEW DELHI: An initial audit report estimating ` 10.67 lakh crore loss to the exchequer on account of allotment of coal blocks during 2004 to 2009 without auction caused an uproar in the Parliament on Thursday and was described as “exceedingly misleading” by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) himself.
As media carried reports of the draft CAG report, the CAG wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on Thursday afternoon, excerpts of which were released by the PMO.
“In the extant case the details being brought out were observations which are under discussion at a very preliminary stage and do not even constitute our pre-final draft and hence are exceedingly misleading,” the CAG said in the letter. The official auditor said that “pursuant to clarification provided by the Ministry (of Coal) in exit conferences held on February 9, 2012, and March 3, 2012, we have changed our thinking.” “In fact it is not even our case that the unintended benefit to the allocatte is an equivalent loss to the exchequer. The leak of the initial draft causes great embarrassment as the audit report is still under preparation. Such leakage causes very deep anguish,” the CAG letter was quoted as saying by the PMO release.
In the leaked report on allotment of coal blocks, CAG had estimated a “windfall gain” of ` 6.31 lakh crore (PSUs – ` 3.37 lakh crore and private parties – ` 2.94 lakh crore) based on the prices prevailing during the year of allocation on constant cost and price basis and as on March 31, 2011.
Meanwhile, the government is almost ready to auction coal blocks through competitive bidding and the guidelines for this are likely in 2-4 months, Coal Minister, Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal said on Thursday. “We will start the process of coal block auction through competitive bidding soon after finalising the guidelines for auction. The guidelines are almost ready and are expected in two to four months,” Mr Jaiswal said.