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August 29, 2014

House Panel vindicated by SC verdict on coal scam: Kalyan Banerjee

House Panel vindicated by SC verdict on coal scam: Kalyan Banerjee

Supreme Court's verdict on theallocation of coal blocks, that came out on August 25, echoes the views expressed by Parliament's StandingCommittee on Coal and Steel. The committee first termed the allocations since 1993 as”illegal” in 2013.

“I am happy that Supreme Court upheld ourthinking,” Senior Advocate and Trinamool Chief Whip in Lok Sabha, KalyanBanerjee, the former Chairman of the standing committee on coal, said reactingto the Supreme Court's verdict on coal block allocation.

Housepanel vindicated

The committee under the chairmanship ofTrinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee also recommended cancellation of allotmentof all blocks where production has not started. There is much in common between the court's ruling and the panel'sobservations. The panel too had said all coal blocks were distributed in anunauthorized manner and there was no transparency in the process.

Toeing the line in the CAG's Coalgatereport – first reported by few media houses on March 22, 2012 – that theexchequer did not get any revenue from allocation, the House panel recommendedthat all personnel who have been involved directly or indirectly in the allocationprocess should be investigated for their role.

“All Coal Block allotted from 1993 onwardswere illegal, there was lack of transparency. Because of such allotments theGovernment did not earn a single paisa. All were given free. The conduct of theScreening Committee was not transparent. The Standing Committee recommendedthat the Coal Blocks where production has not yet started, the allotmentsshould be scrapped,” said Mr Banerjee.

Coalgateat a glance

  • The CAG's Coalgate report, tabled inParliament in 2012, had said the government gave away windfall benefit of Rs1.86 lakh crore to private entities by distributing blocks without bidding.
  • The draft of the CAG's report said thegovernment extended windfall gains of Rs 10.67 lakh crore to private andgovernment entities by distributing 155 blocks without bidding between 2004 and2009. 
  • The final CAG report lowered the estimated windfall gains to Rs 1.86 lakhcrore by excluding the state-run companies and joint ventures with governmententities from the final report.
  • In all 218 coal blocks were allocatedbetween 1993 to 2010 — 5 under P V Narasimha Rao government, 4 under H DDevegowda, 32 under Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and 175 under PrimeMinister Manmohan Singh.