The Comptroller and Auditor General of India's draft audit report on coal, detailing “undue benefits” of Rs. 10.67 lakh crore to commercial entities by giving them 155 coal blocks without auction between 2004 and 2009 is scheduled to be finalised and sent to President Pratibha Patil in the second half of the Budget session, sources in the CAG's office said on Friday.
This indicates that the draft report may neither be as inaccurate nor as preliminary as it has been made out to be. Sources in the government further confirm that the windfall and undue gains to commercial entities would likely rest in the same range as reported. The beneficiaries of this largesse include 100 private companies as well as some public sector power, steel and cement firms.
On Thursday, after details of the draft coal audit roiled Parliament, the PMO released extracts of a letter Vinod Rai wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that afternoon in order to suggest the CAG was distancing himself from the “misleading” loss figure cited in media reports. But with the letter itself admitting that allottees got “unintended benefit,” it is likely the final report will repeat this conclusion.
The scandal about not auctioning coal blocks comes at a time when the UPA government is still battling the effects of the CAG report on 2G spectrum of November 2010 which said the failure to auction 2G spectrum caused a revenue loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore. In February 2012, the Supreme Court cancelled all 122 licences awarded by ex-Telecom Minister A. Raja in 2008 at a 2001 price by using a bespoke first come, first served policy.
With the CAG set to submit its Antrix-Devas report in this session of Parliament too, the PMO must brace itself for further questions since the Prime Minister is also the Minister for Space.
The CAG's office is working on another 150 audit reports which are likely to be completed before Mr. Vinod Rai's tenure ends in May 2013.