Indian government tries to quell $211bn coal furore

INDIA lost up to $211bn (£133.4bn) in revenue by selling coalfields too cheaply, a government auditor’s draft report has said, sparking a furore in parliament yesterday that added to pressure on the Prime Minister after months of policy missteps.

The Prime Minister’s office called the estimated loss “exceedingly misleading,” after the report prompted lawmakers to demand an explanation and rattled investors.

The auditor later backed away from the loss calculation and said its thinking had changed.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who oversaw the coal ministry during some of the period covered by the report, made no comment during his appearance in parliament.

The leaked draft from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office criticised the allocation of 155 coalfields to about 100 private and some state-run firms from 2004-2009, questioning why they were not auctioned off to the highest bidder.