New Delhi, Nov 7 (PTI) The Congress alleged on Tuesday that the Narendra Modi government reversed the long-standing policy of competitive auction for coal block allocation and gave away lucrative fields to the Adani Group.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a statement that the group has been allotted coal blocks even when it has been the sole bidder or when a related party has acted as a second bidder. This, he claimed, is in violation of the spirit of the Supreme Court orders on coal block auctions.
The opposition party also demanded the constitution of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to unravel the truth.
Though an immediate comment was not available from the Adani Group, it has been claiming no wrongdoing on its part.
"The prime minister's single-minded focus on enriching his close friends is once again in evidence, this time in coal mining. Reversing a longstanding policy of competitive auctions for coal block allocations, the Modi government has given away lucrative coal blocks to Adani.
"This has been done even in cases where it was either the sole bidder or in which a related party acted as the second bidder in a thinly-disguised collusion, and in gross violation of the spirit of the Supreme Court's orders on coal auctions," Ramesh alleged.
Since the Modi government has begun awarding coal blocks for commercial mining as opposed to captive mining, the Adani Group has won seven coal blocks through “bidding” in auctions, he claimed.
Sharing the statement in a post on X, the Congress leader said, "Here is our statement on the latest example of the Modi-Adani nexus, and how a coal auction was rigged to favour the PM's most favoured business group." "This is revenue foregone by the state exchequer, and this is revenue denied to the local people whose lands and forests have been taken over for coal mining," he said.
Ramesh said an Empowered Committee of Secretaries (ECoS) was set up during the peak of the COVID-19-induced lockdown in May 2020 for allocation of coal blocks that had single bidders or were being auctioned for a second time.
"When the Gondbahera Ujheni East block was offered once again for auction, the ECoS awarded it to the single bidder – an Adani Group firm. The ECoS decision came despite the recommendation of an earlier expert committee that any auction with less than three bidders be annulled," he claimed.
Citing examples where the Adani Group got coal blocks either as the sole bidder or as bidders with another party, Ramesh alleged, "This is exactly the 'bid rigging' that the CAG highlighted in its audit of earlier coal auctions, and why the rules governing bidding by subsidiaries and joint ventures were tightened after 2015." "It is no coincidence that the blocks awarded to Adani in this manner had the lowest winning revenue-share of all the awarded coal blocks, making the PM's close friend the prime beneficiary of the government's commercial coal mining policy," he alleged.
"This is yet another sordid episode in the PM's quest to create one Modi-made Monopoly (3M) after the other at the cost of Indian consumers and taxpayers. And one more reason why only a JPC (joint parliamentary committee) will be able to unravel the truth about the Modani MegaScam," the Congress leader claimed. PTI SKC SMN