‘The CAG is at it again’: More corruption reports

After the explosive unraveling of the recent 2G spectrum scandal, the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) has published another report, this time on coal mining.

The numbers are staggering to say the least:

[…] the government has extended “undue benefits”, totalling a mind-boggling Rs 10.67 lakh crore, to commercial entities by giving them 155 coal acreages without auction between 2004 and 2009. The beneficiaries include some 100 private companies, as well as some public sector units, in industries such as power, steel and cement.

Rs. 10 lakh crore. Incredible.

Companies that find themselves mentioned in the report include Jindal Steel, Tata Steel, NTPC, Arcelor Mittal India and the Aditya Birla group. Big names, all of them.

But Jindal Steel and Power Ltd promoter Naveen Jindal responded, saying: “It is all project specific. Often you find (state-run) companies unable to start work. I am proud to say that JSPL has started two of our blocks and is contributing towards creating wealth for the country. For all these 155 blocks, Coal India did not have any mining plans as it found them unattractive… CAG may have its view but whether it is JSPL or any other private company, they are all Indian entities and are creating wealth for the country.”

Certainly, sir—it is a matter of pride that you are able to create wealth for the country, and are strengthening the economy. But considering that you are perfectly healthy, profit making companies, it’s certainly criminal of you to transfer to your private coffers some money that rightfully belongs to the exchequer—yes, you’re not the only party at fault, but you’re culpable too!

Rs. 10 lakh crore. That’s approximately $200 billion (if I counted the zeros right—there are way too many zeros in that figure).

I wonder how many other such ‘schemes’ are hidden in the woodwork. CAG—please keep digging!

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