CAG estimates on coal blocks "illogical": Jaiswal

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Coal scam
New Delhi, Apr 2: Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal today described CAG draft report on allocation of coal blocks without auction as "illogical", asking by that yardstick even water used in the hydro projects should be charged.

"This is no logic. If this is accepted, then there are so many hydro projects in the country. Tell me whether usage of water was charged," Jaiswal asked. He said the argument in the CAG draft report was "baseless", especially because when the blocks were given to the private and public sector companies for their captive usage, there was not much demand for coal. First, there was no policy of auctions in place from 1993 onward when the coal blocks were given for the first time to companies other than Coal India Ltd (CIL). Secondly, the auction system had not been in use for several other sectors. "...there are so many steel plants and so much iron ore is extracted, whether iron ore is auctioned," he said in an interview with PTI.

Asked if he found no merit in the auctioning the natural resources like coal, then why is his ministry going in for inviting bids for the blocks, Jaiswal said dynamics have changed over the past few years as coal commands premium now. "Today coal demand has risen so much. That time (when the blocks were given (without auction) there was not much demand... naturally, there was not much value.

"There were not many investors. Even if we had gone in for the bidding, we doubt whether any investor would have come. Everything has a time. With so value (now), bidders will come," he said. The draft report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has created a furore by stating the companies, including top business houses and some public sector firms, had made gains worth Rs 10.67 lakh crore by bagging 155 blocks without any bidding between 2004-2009.

PTI

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