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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 974

Now Chidambaram says Coal scam loss too will prove to be a “myth”

From R. Vasudevan—Reporting from New Delhi
New Delhi, 19 November (Asiantribune.com):

Chidamparam_2.jpgAfter terming CAG's estimate of Rs1.76 lakh crore loss in 2G Spectrum allocation as a "myth", Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Sunday said the projected Rs1.86 lakh crore loss in coal blocks allocation would also turn out to be a "mythical" and "fancy" number.

Fresh from the flop of just-concluded auction of 2G mobile phone airwaves that tested if the government could actually get what the official auditor had projected as loss from allocating the Spectrum on first-come-first-serve basis, Chidambaram said the loss estimated in coal block allocation was "another fancy number".

"One (well respected) business house told me that they were allotted a coal block some seven-eight years ago. (But) he has not been able to enter that area yet for a variety of reasons. His officers (have) not entered the area yet. Now what's the point in saying that some loss is there. What is the loss?," he asked. "Yes, if there is any irregularity in allocating the block then that's a different matter. But where is the loss," he asked.

CAG, which had in 2010 estimated that the exchequer lost Rs1.76 lakh crore in revenue because the then Telecom Minister A Raja allocated spectrum along with mobile permits to 9 telecom companies without bidding, this year estimated a loss of Rs1.86 lakh crore in allocation of coal blocks since 2004.

"Ultimately that number which is being put out in the coal scam would also turn out to be mythical number," he told PTI in an interview. Chidambaram was, however, quick to say there was "no sense of vindication or celebration" in the government over last week's 2G spectrum auction failure.

"Nobody feels vindicated, nobody is celebrating anything. All that we have pointed out is that Rs1.76 lakh crore was a pure myth and I think everybody has candidly admitted that they bought this myth, we never bought this myth," he said.

The 2G spectrum auctions ended flat on Wednesday with nearly half the spectrum seeing no bids and the government winning revenues of only Rs. 9,407.64 crore, instead of the Rs. 40,000 crore revenue target.

Meanwhile, accusing the Congress-led central government of “deliberately manipulating” the recent auction of 2G Spectrum which yielded barely a third of the amount that was expected, the BJP on Sunday demanded a probe into it. “There is a distinct possibility that this auction was deliberately manipulated. Through this auction the government wants to prove the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) wrong. Careful investigation must be made about this entire auction,” Bharatiya Janata Party leader Murli Manohar Joshi said . Opposition has mocked at the rejoicing of the Spectrum auction flop and using it as a reason to attack the CAG findings.

- Asian Tribune -

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