Kamal Nath at the seminar. (PTI)
New Delhi, Sept. 5: Union minister Kamal Nath today said government auditor CAG was an important constitutional body but took a dig at the authority, saying “somebody” could allege that a decision to legalise 1,600-odd unauthorised colonies amounted to a “presumptive loss”.
The last two words were an allusion to a recent report by the comptroller and auditor general, which said coal block allocations to some cherry-picked companies had cost the exchequer a presumptive loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore.
The pat and the poke came at a seminar organised by the CAG — and a little over a week after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had described its coal findings as “flawed” and “disputable”.
If the Prime Minister rebutted, the urban development minister spoke of “realities”.
“The government’s decision to legalise the (1,640) unauthorised colonies in Delhi was based on ground realities, but the CAG could allege that this constituted a presumptive loss to the exchequer,” he said after a seminar on “Performance reporting for urban local bodies”.
Earlier, at the seminar, Nath had said the CAG was an important constitutional authority and there “should be a constant communication between the audit body and the entity which is being audited”.
After the seminar, Nath tried to make a distinction between what was “desirable” and what was “feasible” and insisted that there was no question of praise or criticism.
“This was a seminar on urban local bodies, municipalities, nagar palikas, nagar panchayats. I did say we have to practise the art of the feasible and not the art of the desirable.… There was no question of praising or criticising. This was a focussed seminar, so I spoke on the subject and did bring in concerns which are there in implementation,” he said.
In his lecture, Nath said the cabinet had in 2007 decided to regularise 1,639 unauthorised colonies. “These (colonies) are on government land... I was asked if these are regularised, then loss will be calculated.… (Some people asked) why did you give this land away? I wish somebody can tell me a way to do it.”
Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh was first invited to attend the seminar. But he reportedly backed off at the last moment.