NEW DELHI: The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament is scheduled to meet on August 23 and could consider bringing the latest set of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports onto its agenda for the year, setting in motion another high-profile investigation.
The meeting next week will not see any discussion beyond the procedure to deal with the three CAG reports on coal allocations, post-bid changes in the running of Delhi airport and diversion of coal for a power project operated by the Anil Ambani group.
PAC chairperson M M Joshi is expected to seek the committee’s approval to bring the CAG reports on the agenda for the year and while this is seen to be a formality, the politically charged rhetoric over the auditor’s findings might see some sparks fly.
The opposition sees the reports as ammunition against a government that has been hemmed in by allies and is battling the effects of an economic slowdown and corruption scandals. The reports have made the Congress more bellicose about the auditor.
Once the reports are taken on agenda, a list of questions is dispatched to the relevant ministries to frame the discussions that follow. The list of witnesses will include officials as well as representatives of some of the private entities involved in the projects.
The report on coal allocations is seen to be the most politically damaging with blocks being allotted by a screening committee that was overseen by senior PMO officials. Unlike the 2G scam, where the first come, first serve policy was manipulated, in the coal allocations, there is no such principle. CAG has said it found no evidence of various bids being compared and evaluated.
Interestingly, opposition-ruled state governments have challenged the Centre’s contention that they opposed auction of coal blocks. Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh said all he had insisted upon was that coal blocks should not be allotted to complete outsiders who had no stake in ongoing or committed power projects in the state.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is also understood to have taken a similar view. The states are saying that they did not want projects in their state being affected adversely and this did not amount to being opposed to competitive bidding.
The changes in the contract for the Delhi international airport limited run by the GMR group have also raised the hackles of MPs, some of who like BJP”s Nishikant Dubey and CPI’s Prabodh Panda have already raised civil aviation issues with the Central Vigilance Commission. The DIAL contract is fresh fodder on NCP leader Praful Patel’s tenure as minister for civil aviation.
All three reports have been challenged by the government and Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari has said the auditor was in the habit of “adding zeros”. The methodology for calculating the profits accrued to the coal block allottees has been challenged and this can be reflected in the PAC’s questioning.
Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.comNo tags for this post.