Debating India

NDA regime’s decisions questioned

Saturday 7 May 2005

Special Correspondent

CAG picks holes in the sale of Centaur Hotels

NEW DELHI: In a series of reports tabled in Parliament on Friday, the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India criticised several decisions taken by the erstwhile National Democratic Alliance Government.

The CAG questioned the Vajpayee Government’s handling of the sale of the Centaur Hotels, the slow pace of acquiring defence equipment even after putting in place a "fast track procedure," the sale of the security press at Nasik (which led to the Telgi scandal), the ``India Shining’’ campaign and the appointment of "Ambassador Agnihotri." The various reports add up to a serious indictment of the Vajpayee regime.

In the case of the Centaur Hotels, "repeated extensions and relaxations were allowed to the bidder of Juhu Centaur to facilitate the sale." The Disinvestment Ministry departed from its own assumptions and procedures to facilitate the sale to "the sole bidder."

In another report, the CAG indicted the External Affairs Ministry for incurring an "avoidable expenditure" of Rs. 15.95 crores on the post of ``Ambassador-at-large’’. The post was created to accommodate and grant an ambassadorial status to Bhishma Agnihotri, a known Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh partisan.

Cataloguing the delays in the purchase of de-mining equipment, the CAG noted that the Army was forced to manually recover most of the mines laid during Operation Parakram. This resulted in the death of 60 soldiers and loss of limbs to 100 more.

The Vajpayee Government came in for questioning on the expenditure on the ``India Shining’’ campaign undertaken on the eve of the last Lok Sabha elections. The CAG also questioned the procedures adopted in selling the security press at Nasik, reviving the controversy about the origin of the Telgi scam.

The Comptroller and Auditor-General also listed many other instances of indifference to established fiscal procedures.

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