The sea of endless scams
It is unfortunate that another scam has tumbled out of the closet of the UPA government. It now appears that major irregularities have taken place in the award of licences for exploring minerals in the seabed. Due care should have been taken in this important project to ensure that the award of the licences was aboveboard. Instead, the transactions smack once again of corruption. This time the culprit is the ministry of mines. Favours appear to have been extended to the companies by the officials of the Indian Bureau of Mines, Nagpur under the Ministry of Mines, while awarding licences for exploring minerals in the sea bed of the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. In a story that has repeated itself several times in the last few years, the beneficiary companies bagged the licences, that is, 28 blocks out of a total of 63 offshore blocks, despite lacking requisite criteria. It is also alleged that the companies were incorporated after bids were invited from the interested parties willing to go for exploration and did not have any experience in offshore mining at the time of notification. Thus, once again the spectre of favouritism raises its head with the possiblity of the exchange of underhand gratification. These companies allegedly belong to a controversial revennue service officer who had also served in the ministry of mines. This would appear to be a bad time for the UPA government with numerous scandals such as the 2G spectrum scam, coalgate and the earlier loot during the Commonwealth Games, tumbling out of the closet. That so many scams are taking place with such regularity shows that there is something wrong with the governance model of the present government. There seems to be no firm hand at the tiller and no system of supervision in place. Rules have simply been flouted with those at the highest levels often complict. There is no way a scam of this proportions could have taken place without those at the political level being unaware of it. Therefore, while it is good that the secretary, mines, has been shifted from the ministry by the prime minister’s office, the role of those holding the higher political offices, who are ultimately responsible, should also be investigated. These scams are taking place at a time when it is quite clear that the Indian people are fed up of the deep rooted malaise of corruption. It is time that those in power realised that the people of India no longer wish to be taken for a ride and they want probity in public life. The seabed scam should be throughly probed and those found guilty, howsoever high they may be, should be severely punished.