The Coal-gate saga, the “scam du jour,” is fast being lost like every other scam, as the media revels in motives, allegations and counter allegations. In the midst of this, the most revealing piece of news on the Coal-gate saga was the pronouncements made by Mr. P.C Parikh, former Coal Secretary, who was at the center of all the action when these decisions regarding the coal allocations were made.
“I had written to the PMO way back in 2004 that coal blocks should be given through an auction. But the policy has been implemented now in 2012 and till date, not even a single coal block has been allocated through auction. The government lost a lot of money by giving coal mines using the existing system.” Mr. Parikh said that the committee was always under tremendous pressure from MPs, state governments, ministries and other players to allot coal blocks. “Any system which is based on a subjective decision is open to pulls and pressures, and this is precisely what happened,” he remarked.
These statements reveal several serious flaws in our current system. Firstly, there is way too much left to the discretion of those in power. The bulk of our scams can be traced down to ministers using their discretion to make decisions that are often arbitrary. The reality of coalition politics is that the PM could feign helplessness if the likes of Raja chose to do as they please. It’s hard to argue that a tough, no-nonsense PM would make a huge difference as opposed to an affable, yet purportedly clean PM.