Friday, March 23, 2012

now another scandal - outrage over coal scandal !


Sad that in our Country, corruption scandals are not only forgotten but often get dwarfed by the next one that surfaces !

Sure now no one remembers or speaks of the ‘Bofors’ – 155mm field howitzer scandal – in which Rajiv Gandhi and several others were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors AB – when did you  last hear of  Ottavio Quattrocchi, the Italian businessman accused in that deal.   We used to hear every now and then of CBI officers touring foreign countries to nail him and have him arrested.  There were reports of  Income tax tribunal bench ruling that Rs. 41 crore was paid in bribes to Q.   In  February 2007, Ottavio Quattrocchi was detained in Argentina on the basis of the Interpol warrant. The Indian investigating agency CBI came under attack for putting up a half-hearted effort towards his extradition  and India lost the case for his extradition in June 2007, the judge remarking that "India did not even present proper legal documents".Embarrassingly, India was asked to pay Ottavio's legal expenses.  In April 2009, The Interpol removed the red-corner notice issued against Ottavio Quattrocchi after a request from the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Now after the 2G scam, mining scam surfaces – there was  outrage in India's parliament after a draft report by government auditors estimated India lost $210bn by selling coalfields too cheaply. Opposition politicians accused the government of "looting the country" by selling coalfields to companies without competitive bidding.  Private and state companies benefited from the allocations between 2004 and 2010, says a Times of India report. But the auditor says the leaked draft is "exceedingly misleading".  There are also reports that whatever is stated is a conservative estimate taking in to account the prices for the lowest grade of coal and if value of median grade were to be taken the figures would be much higher. 

In a Nation where coal mining high, mining mafia supported by political parties have also made money and it is open.  Many would cry that looting should not be allowed but those enjoying continue to reap benefits.  The Communists meanwhile would continue to thunder that Govt policies favour corporate houses and capitalists – illegal mining would go on.  It is not Central but State subject also – and often you will hear of various mining scandals be it coal, granite, garnet or whatever ore in States.

It was a CAG report that exposed the country's biggest corruption case to date, the so-called 2G scandal, in which mobile phone licenses were sold at a fraction of their value at an estimated cost to the exchequer – still there has been no impact on the Govt or the policies of the rulers - Former telecoms minister along with some not so fortunate others are currently on trial over those allegations.  All deny wrongdoing.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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