1:15 pm: In its recommendations, the CAG report has said that the Coal Controller’s Organisation which failed to carry out monitoring of coal blocks should do so more often and that Coal India Limited needed to expand its production capacity to meet demand.
1:10 pm: For those who’d like to read the report themselves click here.
1:05 pm: CAG reports states that Delhi International Airport Limited to get undue benefit of Rs 3,415 cr from levy of development fee on passengers at Delhi Airport.
The auditor body has also slammed the levy of development fee on passengers at Delhi Airport and said it vitiated sanctity of bidding process.
1:00 pm: The BJP has already launched into its attack on the Prime Minister.
“We would like to know the Prime Minister’s response to the CAG report,” Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.
12:55 pm: There has been no record of any violence targetting people from the north eastern states, the Home Minister said.
“I would like to say that so far 170 people have been arrested in Assam, 24 in Mumbai and in Pune 13 people have been arrested for assaulting a student,” Shinde said.
I would like to appeal that people should return back to the states and that the whole country is open to the people from north east states, he said.
“We have issued alerts in all states and will inform Chief Ministers of all states,” Shinde said.
The Prime Minister’s assurance to Parliament will be honoured, he said.
12:45 pm: Parliament is still debating on the violence in Assam and the exodus of people from other states to their homes in northeastern states.
“I was returning to work on August 15 and I was told by the Prime Minister that there were a large number of people leaving from Bangalore,” Shinde said.
Shinde said he had spoken to the Karnataka Chief Minister to convince people to stay on and he was happy that the state home minister was sent to the station to convince people not to leave Bangalore.
Shinde said he spoke with Chief Ministers of different states to ask them to maintain peace.
“Many rumours are being spread. Messages are still being circulated. We are taking action on them. We have asked for the tracing of SMSes and emails that have threatened people from the north east,” he said.
12:30 pm: So the three CAG reports on power, coal and airports have been tabled in Parliament and the government can expect quite a bit of criticism over it.
According to CNN IBN, the loss to the exchequer due to the coal blocks being given away is more than the 2G spectrum sale scam. The loss estimated is Rs 1.86 lakh crore.
12:20 pm: Lalu Prasad Yadav attempted to find the political conspiracy in the hundreds of people fleeing their homes and said it was conspiracy to break the nation.
“In the name of Bangladeshis you want brothers within the country to fight each other,” he said.
We have to always assure the people from northeast states that no matter what they will be safe in the country, Yadav said.
12:05 pm: DMK’s Kanimozhi defended social media and said there had to be alternate ways to ensure that rumours are not spread about violence targetting members of a particular community.
Parliament largely seemed united in their condemnation of people from north eastern states fleeing to their home states.
But unfortunately for all those who are fleeing to their home states the reassurances from Parliament has meant little so far. This tweet perhaps sums it up well:
So, Parliament is safe for NE people. Good. Er… leaders, now, how about some concrete measures to make the rest of India safe for them.
— Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) अगस्त 17, 2012
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is still to speak in Lok Sabha about what action has been taken so far.
11.50am: The Prime Minister is now speaking in the Lok Sabha, reiterating the right of the Northeastern people to live in any part of the country they so desire. “I rise not to debate but to add my voice to the feelings that have been expressed in this august house”, he said. The Prime Minister also made an appeal to all the political parties to join hands and send a message to the Northeast “that all our people are one”.
11.30am: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking in the Rajya Sabha made a strong statement in the house, saying that he was personally in touch with the Chief Ministers and Home Ministers of all the states, and would do his utmost to ensure that all citizens from the Northeast felt secure.
“This country belongs to them as well as us”, said the Prime Minister to applause, adding that the house shared a collective responsibility to create a secure environment and to end rumour mongering, ensuring that anyone fanning such rumours and tales would be brought to book.
“This house stands unitedly that we will work together to give them a feeling of security- to curb and effectively control all the elements”, he said.
11.27am: Leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, says that the very presence of Northeastern citizens in other states promoted national unity, and called on the central government and state governments to work together to make Northeastern students feel secure and stop the spread of fear psychosis and rumour mongering.
11.21am: Meanwhie in the Rajya Sabha, Samajawadi Party is asking that social media sites be shut down for a few days to prevent the spread of rumours that are prompting thousands of Northeastern students and people to flee cities like Bangalore and Pune.
The comments come in the wake of Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil also blaming social networking sites of spreading rumours. “We are requesting the central government in helping shut down social networking sites found to be involved in spreading rumours,” Patil had said.
11.11am: 11.06am: Question hour was suspended to facilitate a discussion on the ‘exodus’ of Northeastern students from Pune, Bangalore and a number of other cities from India.
Leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj taking the floor expressed anguish at the exodus of thousands of Northeastern people from Pune, Bangalore and other Indian cities, saying that this was their country as well, and they should not be made to feel insecure. “Its almost as if Railways is operating towards Guwahati. Students met me and said they have been asked to leave by 20 August”, she said.
Making an impassioned speech on the floor of the house, Swaraj said she was shocked at the sentiments of the students, one of whom had asked her how the government would protect them if they could not even protect police in Mumbai. “I was shocked”, said Swaraj.
The Opposition leader reiterated that the North East was a very important area and critical to national security and said that the government should attempt to make its citizens feel secure instead of only talking to insurgent groups. She also demanded the setting up of helplines for Northeastern people.
11:00 am : Parliament begins on a stormy note. Speaker Meira Kumar has to make multiple attempts for calm before proceedings can begin.
10:30 am : The Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s report on the allocation of coal blocks, which is likely to be tabled in Parliament today, has reportedly pegged the loss from non-transparent allocation of coal blocks at Rs 1.86 lakh crore and may recommend penalties and disincentives for non-performers and reward performers with coal blocks.
The report, however, exonerates the Prime Minister’s Office from any wrong-doing and holds the steering committee dealing with the subject responsible for the lapse.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held the coal portfolio between 2006 and 2009. However, the CAG is expected to pull up the coal ministry for not monitoring the progress of mines periodically and its Kolkata-based department, the office of the Coal Controller, for not conducting any field inspections.
As many as 149 blocks were allotted to several private companies during 2004-2006, out of which 15 blocks that were given to private players did not start production till 2011. Some of them sold off the blocks at astronomical prices.
The coal ministry had last year cancelled 24 allocations for delays in development and is currently issuing show-cause notices to 58 companies, threatening cancellation of allotments.
CNN-IBN, which has accessed the CAG report, named Tata, Naveen Jindal, Essar, Abhijeet, Arcelor and Vedanta groups as the beneficiaries of this flawed allocation. The Tatas and Jindals are alleged to be the biggest beneficiaries.
A report in Business Standard has also alleged undue benefits of Rs 15,849 crore extended by the government to Reliance Power by way of surplus allocation for two of its UMPPs.
The CAG report has also asserted that not spelling out the terms of the usage of surplus coal upfront has contributed to handing over undue benefits to the allottees “to the detriment of the ultimate power consumers.” And it is this ambiguity which allowed bidders like Reliance Power to interpret the clauses for usage of the surplus coal and vitiated the process of allocation.