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Irresponsible govt: Why the 2G scam is similar to coal-mining scam
Even as people of the country are still to come to terms with the fallout of the 2G scam, the nation has been hit by another scam of mega proportions - the Coal-gate scam. The string of corruption scandals have strongly affected the ruling congress party. The Coal-gate scam or coal mining scam relates to the allotment of coal mines to private and state-run entities in an inappropriate manner. The scam has become the hottest topic for the monsoon session of parliament, which is going to start on Wednesday, August 22.

THE COMPTROLLER and Auditor General of India (CAG) office has hauled up the government of India for the Coal-gate scam, which resulted in an estimated loss of about $210 billion (five times India’s annual defense budget). Since, the coal blocks are assigned by the Union coal secretary, which is the head of the screening committee of coal blocks, and the entire scam unfurled under the noses of the coal minister - the government is finding itself in a lot of trouble. And the coal minister was Dr Manmohan Singh, who was holding this post as an additional charge for three years.

There are many similarities between the 2G scam and the Coal-gate scam. Both the telecom and coal sectors have a direct impact on the daily lives of citizens of India. In both the scams the reason for lost revenue was the same, i.e. the mechanism selected for the allocation of the natural resources. In both the cases, the selection committees were headed by bureaucrats from ministries or states. And in both the cases, the controversy came to light via reports given by the CAG. Lastly, the government has safeguarded its position by giving the same defense for both the scams, in the same pattern and in the same sequence.

Despite similarities between the coal-gate scam and the 2G scam, the UPA government is likely to be affected even more in the case of coal-gate. With the 2G scam, the UPA government has already made a name for itself as a government that allows corruption. Secondly, in the 2G scam the Telecommunications and IT Minister, A. Raja was charged but unlike the telecom scam, in the coal-gate scam, the prime minister himself is being charged. Thirdly, the success of telecom industry has helped to rationalize the blow of 2G scam to the common people, but the coal shortage, power price hike and the power cuts has made this scam to directly affect the common man. And the recent failure of the northern grid for two days was an additional pain to the common man.

All these scams are threatening the popularity and stability of the UPA government. The government should be prepared to answer the thundering questions of the opposition in the monsoon session of parliament.

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