In a hurriedly called press conference, Jaiswal reiterated that except the coal block allocations made in UPA-I, no allocations have been made by him
New Delhi: Minister for Coal Sriprakash Jaiswal on Monday said no coal block was given away during his tenure and only allotment letters were issued to some firms to whom coal mines were allocated in the first term of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, reports PTI.
"I have said time and again that except the coal block allocations made in UPA-I, no allocations have been made. If any Member of Parliament (MP) is making any such statement, then that MP is misleading the media as well as the nation," he said.
In a hurriedly called press conference, Jaiswal also refuted BJP MP Hansraj Ahir reported allegations that he sanctioned coal blocks to three private companies, SKS Ispat and Power, CGSponge Manufacturers Consortium Coalfield and API Ispat and Powertech.
"Only two coal blocks were there, whose names have been mentioned. They were already approved (in UPA-I), but allocation letter was not issued because general elections were declared. Those allocation letters got issued when UPA-II came in to the power," he said.
"Forget 35 blocks, not even 0.35 coal blocks were allocated in UPA-II. You can come to our office and find it out, there is no basis (of the allegations)," he said.
Ahir has reportedly alleged that Jaiswal sanctioned the allocations to three private companies in late 2011 without following the auction route despite the fact that rules for auctioning had come into effect in 2010.
Jaiswal also requested the opposition parties, particularly BJP, to allow Parliament to function after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh making a statement today.
L&T will engineer, procure, construct and install four wellhead platforms for ONGC spread over the Mukta, Bassein and Mumbai High South fields
Mumbai: Engineering company Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T) on Monday said it has secured an offshore contract valued at Rs749 crore from the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) for total 'EPCI' or engineering, procurement, construction and installation of four wellhead platforms, reports PTI.
The contract was won against international competitive bidding. The project, spread over the Mukta, Bassein and Mumbai High South fields is part of ONGC's strategy to develop marginal fields to meet India's rising energy demands, a company statement said here.
L&T is scheduled to complete the project by April 2014.
In addition to conventional wellhead facilities, one of the platforms-the B-127, will also have process gas compression facility.
L&T has been serving the upstream hydrocarbon sector since early the 90s. This contract reiterates the long-term association of ONGC with L&T in the development of offshore fields in India.
The company's offshore track record includes successful completion of several challenging projects for domestic and international clients.
L&T provides complete 'EPCI' solutions for the offshore oil & gas industry combining customized engineering and procurement, fast-track project management and world class fabrication & sea installation capabilities, the release said.
The Prime Minister asserted that aggregating the 'purported gains' to private parties 'merely on the basis of the average production costs and sale price' of Coal India could be highly misleading
New Delhi: Dubbing computation of loss of Rs1.86 lakh crore in coal block allocation by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) as 'flawed' and 'misleading', Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday took the battle to the Opposition camp, blaming it for thwarting the Centre's effort to shift to competitive bidding, reports PTI.
Making a statement in both Houses of Parliament amid uproar created by BJP members, Singh refused to be on the back foot, declaring that he takes 'full responsibility' for the decisions taken as he contended that CAG's "observations" are "clearly disputable".
With BJP creating disruptions, he read out a few portions of his four-page statement before laying it in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha which were repeatedly adjourned because of uproar.
Conscious that the CAG reports are normally discussed in detail in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament where the ministry concerned responds, Singh said he was departing from this established procedure "because of the nature of the allegations that are being made and because I was holding the charge of Coal Minister for a part of the time covered by the report."
Responding point-by-point to the CAG's observations, the Prime Minister said even if the government auditor's contention that benefits accrued to private companies were accepted, "their computations can be questioned on a number of technical points."
He asserted that aggregating the "purported gains" to private parties "merely on the basis of the average production costs and sale price of Coal India Ltd (CIL) could be highly misleading."
As coal blocks were allocated to private companies only for captive purposes for specified end-uses, he said, it would not be appropriate to link the allocated blocks to the price of coal set by CIL.
The Prime Minister, whose resignation is being sought by the BJP, asserted that "any allegation of impropriety is without any basis and unsupported by facts".
Seeking to corner the Opposition over the issue, he said the policy of allocating coal blocks without competitive bidding existed since 1993 and previous governments also allocated "precisely in the manner that the CAG has criticised".
He also said major coal and ignite bearing states like West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Rajasthan "ruled by Opposition parties" were "strongly opposed" to a switch over to competitive bidding process.
On the charge of delay in bringing the Coal Mines Nationalisation (Amendment) Bill, 2000 to facilitate commercial mining by private companies, Singh said it was pending in Parliament for a long time owing to "stiff opposition from the stakeholders" and government wanted broader consultations and consensus.
Singh said these state governments felt that a switch over would increase the cost of coal, adversely impact value addition and development of industries in their areas and dilute their prerogative in the selection of leases.
Citing instances, he said the then BJP Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje had written to him in April 2005 opposing competitive bidding.
The Prime Minister quoted Raje as saying then that the competitive bidding was against the spirit of the Sarkaria Commission recommendations.
Singh also named another BJP Chief Minister Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh) saying that the latter had written to him in June 2005 seeking continuation of the extant policy of coal block allocation.
He said the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister had requested that any change in coal policy be made after arriving at a consensus between the central government and the states.
"The state governments of West Bengal (Left) and Orissa (BJD-led) also wrote formally opposing a change to the system of competitive bidding," Singh said.