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Govt offensive on coal block issue, says no loss

PTI     August 24, 2012
Government on Friday launched a counter-offensive on the coal block allocation controversy maintaining that CAG's concept of presumptive loss was flawed and there was no loss because no mining has taken place as yet.

With Parliament disrupted for the fourth consecutive day in the wake of CAG report on coal blocks allocation , the government fielded a battery of ministers led by P Chidambaram who accused the Opposition for being "unwilling" to allow Parliament to function and discuss the issue.

The finance minister appealed to the Opposition to come back to Parliament on Monday and allow it to function so that first thing the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh can make a statement and a debate can follow to any length of time it wants.

Flanked by Law Minister Salman Khurshid and Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, Chidambaram who heads the Group on Ministers on Media, said the UPA was being unnecessarily targeted for following procedures adopted by the governments since 1994 in allocating coal blocks without auction.

"This presumptive loss (of Rs 1.86 lakh crore projected by CAG in its report), I deeply regret to say, is so flawed...

incisive articles by very eminent writers have pointed out these flaws.

"If coal is not mined, if it remains buried in mother earth, where is the loss. The loss can arise only once the coal is taken out of mother earth, mined and sold at unacceptable price or value. But if the coal is not mined, where is the loss," he said.

Chidambaram was apparently referring to the CAG's figure of Rs 1.86 lakh crore "undue benefit" flowing to private firms who have been allocated coal blocks without auction since 2004.

The Minister said no coal has been mined so far in 56 out of the 57 blocks examined by the CAG.

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