India’s state auditor accused the government of allocating dozens of coal blocks at a fraction of their market price, costing potential revenues of around $33.3 billion. According to Daily Times, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said a delay in introducing competitive bidding had rendered the sale process between 2004 and 2009 beneficial to the private companies. In a draft of its report, which was leaked earlier this year, CAG estimated that private companies’ “windfall” gain from allocations had amounted to a much larger figure, $211 billion.
The opposition has sought to link Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in charge of the Coal Ministry in 2006, to the affair. Singh’s government has lurched from crisis to crisis since graft in the sale of telecoms spectrum surfaced two years ago, culminating in the quashing of licenses.
The telecoms sale may have cost the government up to $36 billion. India is the world’s third-largest coal producer after China and the United States, but output has struggled to keep up with consumer demand for electricity.