The Government is now cancelling the coal blocks turn by turn — almost one, two, three every day. If the coal blocks were given as per rules, and if nothing was wrong, then why are they being cancelled now? People in the know of the matter are very clear that no criteria was followed in coal blocks and they were allotted just on the verbal recommendation of Ministers and the PMO. The companies to whom the coal blocks were allotted did not fulfill even the minimum criterion. Under the Mines and Minerals Act, coal is a major mineral and the decision to whom it has to be allotted lies with the Central Government, and not the State Government. Of course the final lead is indicated by the State Government. Now the Centre is saying that the States are responsible. This is an excuse. If it is not a major mineral then the States are responsible. For a major mineral like coal, the Act is very clear and without the Central Government’s approval, the States cannot grant the lease. It is in the fitness of things if the Supreme Court cancels all the blocks like they did in 2G, and with the new procedure, fresh allotments are made. But strange things are being said. Chidambaram says that coal has not been extracted, so there is no loss. This is like selling the Ashoka Hotel to a private entrepreneur for a very cheap price, and then saying that there is no loss as the rooms have not been occupied. Yes, if the rooms have not been occupied, then the private sellers have not made a profit, but you have sold it at a cheap price, then you have already made a loss. In the coal case, a similar thing has taken place. As far as the Government is concerned, it has lost money for all time to come. When the private companies will make money and how much money they will make is a different matter. The best course of action would be if the Court cancels all these blocks and either it should be allotted as per a transparent procedure or better still it can be nationalised and handed over to Coal India or such companies for exploitation by the Government. The public sector of India is not as efficient as the private sector is reputed to be, but even then the Indian Oil Corporation, other oil companies, Coal India have not done badly. Maybe there is corruption in the Government, maybe it is in the public sector undertakings, maybe the efficiency is lower but it is better than allowing the private sector units who are not connected with coal to take the material at no cost as far as coal is concerned. There are other CAG reports awaiting attention like the Delhi airport, aviation sector and other items. It is high time that either the CAG team should be given Constitutional power, so that it can keep on enquiring and disclosing these matters or the CBI’s strengths should be increased so that it can get to the bottom of these matters. It is very demoralising for a country like India, which is supposed to be a standardised country and the whole world is looking at India and India is such a mess. I can understand that there is recession in this world and therefore India may also be affected. Recession, economic cycle, ups and downs are one thing but rampant corruption and to this level and in such a manner is totally unacceptable. The political situation now is that one ally of the Congress has withdrawn support, though that means only 19 MP’S are less. The Congress may be able to survive, but the countdown has begun. Whenever elections are held, Congress is in for a shock. Or if you already know, if there will be no shock, at least it will be in no position to form a Government. The Government will be a non- Congress one. The Third Front is trying to put itself together but if Mulayam Singh is the leader of the Third Front then Mamata Banerjee cannot be a part of this party. So I think this time regional players will fight the elections independently and form some sort of a coalition and come into being after the election. We have non-political players like Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev and General V.K. Singh who have caught the imagination of the people and people are looking to them for showing the path. Now, they are not political figures but their credibility is high. So if they take a programme around the country, their programme will definitely get credibility. And if they are able to identify people who they can support or canvass for, then those people have a good chance of winning. The next few months will be very interesting, we must watch and the Government on its honest part should quickly take action by cancelling the coal block allocations and taking action on the other CAG reports.
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