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Coal scam much bigger than thought: PM

Hussainiwala (Punjab)

23-March-2015

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the coal blocks allocation scam during the previous UPA government was much bigger than the figure of Rs.1.76 lakh crore pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in his report.

Addressing a martyrs' rally after paying homage to Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev at their memorial in Hussainiwala in Punjab's frontier district of Ferozepur, the prime minister made a direct attack on the then Congress-led government over the coal scam.

"The coal scam was thought to be Rs.1.76 lakh crore as per the CAG report. Some people said the amount was exaggerated. It has turned out to be much bigger than that figure. Only 20 coal blocks out of 204 have been auctioned by our government so far and over Rs.2 lakh crore has already been collected. Rest of the coal blocks are yet to be auctioned. Imagine how much more money will come for the development of the country," Modi said.

"Corruption has ruined our country," he lamented, adding that martyrs like Bhagat Singh had not sacrificed their lives to see the country in this condition.

Highlighting another scandal related to the purchase of LED bulbs by the UPA government, Modi said: "The previous government bought LED bulbs at Rs.300 per bulb in 2014. We have bought the same for Rs.80 apiece. There was rampant corruption everywhere."

Modi assured farmers that the central and state governments would do everything to help them at a time when untimely rains have damaged crops extensively.

He said the central government has come up with various schemes for the benefit of farmers.

"Farmers want jobs for at least one of their children. We don't want that children of farmers languish in slums in Delhi and Mumbai," he said.

Modi told farmers, particularly in Punjab, not to over-use fertilizers for greater crop output.

"Farmers are doing things like using chemical fertilizers for more output. This is wrong. We are ruining our land and crops by using so much fertilizers. India lives on the foodgrains provided by the hard working farmers of Punjab," Modi said, adding that Punjab should lead the way in arresting the misuse of fertilizers.

Modi arrived here on Monday afternoon and paid homage to freedom struggle martyrs Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. The prime minister placed a wreath at the martyrs' memorial and bowed with folded hands.

"It is an inspiring moment for me to come to this land of martyrs," said Modi, sporting a yellow turban, symbolic of martyr Bhagat Singh.

Modi pointed out that the British were scared of Bhagat Singh.

"The British were so scared of Bhagat Singh that they advanced his hanging by one day in violation of all norms. They hanged him secretly (in Lahore jail) and did not even hand over his body to his family," he said.

"The British committed the sin of burning his body after pouring kerosene on it and using waste material collected from this place. I am proud to have come to this holy land," he said.

"Bhagat Singh's name still inspires youth to sacrifice their life for the country. We need to make our country as per the dreams of our martyrs. We need to clean our country," Modi said.
The prime minister said Punjab made the maximum contribution to the freedom movement.

This was Modi's first visit to Punjab after becoming prime minister in May last year.

He is the second prime minister to visit the Hussainiwala memorial, the place where the three martyrs were cremated after being hanged on March 23, 1931 by the British authorities in Lahore.

Then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had come to the same memorial on March 23, 1985, to pay homage to the martyrs.

The Hussainiwala memorial is located just a few metres from the India-Pakistan border. - IANS