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Millennium Post

Admission too late to course correct

The UPA government’s belated admission that ‘something went wrong’ in the manner the coal blocks allocations were done by its ministry would do little to fix its image of a thoroughly corrupt establishment. While the attorney general Goolam E Vahanvati told the three-judge bench of Supreme Court that the coal ministry, which was headed by Manmohan Singh when the irregularities occurred, that the decisions were taken in good faith, it lay bare the gaping holes in the administrative structures which led up to such inexorable transgressions and fraudulent transactions, causing enormous losses to the government exchequer. Given that coal mining rights has been a sensitive issue in the country, with natural resources worth several thousands of crores at stake here, the government should have been extra cautious while distributing and allocating the mining fields, particularly in mining-dependent states such as Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. While some of these states are doing alright economically, most are terribly poor and losses to the public exchequer would mean less funds from the Centre to these beleaguered provinces which are hungry for capital. That the Centre had a hand in squandering public money to benefit a thin coterie of political and business elites is disgraceful and the admission on the part of the government, coming at the eleventh hour, does nothing to rectify the grievous wrong committed by its officials.

While A-G Vahanvati has contended that Centre’s role has been limited to identifying the coal blocks, state governments such as that in Maharashtra have countered that saying that allocation of the mining blocks and rights were controlled and regulated by the Centre. After the latest SC rap, and with the CBI registering fresh cases against more companies involved in coal block mining discrepancies, the full extent of the UPA government’s role in orchestrating, or at least allowing, the coal scam to take place would surface soon. The emperor in the UPA government, it is obvious now, has no clothes on.
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