The auction kitty from sale of coal mines and telecom spectrum today swelled to over Rs three lakh crore — exceeding all estimates including by CAG for value of such resources, which have been at the centre of two major scams in the recent years.
While coal blocks being sold through an e-auction are the same whose allocation got cancelled pursuant to a Supreme Court order in relation to the alleged ‘coalgate’ scam, the 2G and 3G airwaves being put under hammer are different from those in the so-called ‘2G scam’.
These two scams had become matters of big political debates including in run-up to the Lok Sabha polls last year.
In total 204 coal blocks were cancelled, while auction of just 32 of them have yielded Rs 2.07 lakh crore already, including about Rs 11,000 crore from two mines today. In spectrum, total bids reached Rs 94,000 crore at the end of the fifth day of auction today. The auction for both the resources will continue tomorrow.
Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said that the e-auction of 32 coal blocks, out of 204 cancelled coal blocks, “has already yielded potential e-auction revenues, royalties and upfront payments of Rs 2.07 lakh crores, which is far in excess of CAG loss estimate of Rs 1.86 lakh crore.”
The cumulative kitty of over Rs 2 lakh crore includes over Rs one lakh crore from sale of 19 mines in first tranche.
The total proceeds from the spectrum auction is expected to cross Rs one lakh crore mark, while the minimum amount earlier targetted by the government was Rs 82,000 crore.
Goyal said that the auctions would result in lower cost of power, while coal-bearing states like Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra will “earn lakhs of crores of additional revenue”.
The power fuel cost would come down by Rs 96,971 crores, resulting in power tariff savings for consumers, he added.
In five days of the second leg of auction so far, mines have been mostly sold in eastern states to firms like Adani, Hindalco, JSW and Jindal.
With regard to the spectrum auction, the Department of Telecom said that the bidding has taken place in all bands and “a value of approximately Rs 94,000 crore has been committed by bidders in respect of provisionally won spectrum”.
“There is still spectrum, which is yet to be sold. Bidding would recommence tomorrow,” it added.
Seven rounds of bidding were completed today and till now 31 rounds of bidding has taken place.
Incumbents Bharti Airtel and Vodafone are locked with Reliance Jio to protect their spectrum they need to carry voice and data in the world’s second-biggest smartphone market. In all, eight bidders are in the fray.
The auction is the biggest ever sale of 2G and 3G airwaves where government is selling spectrum in four bands: 2,100 megahertz (Mhz), 1,800 MHz, 900 MHz and 800 MHz.
There has been no bidding in Mumbai, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh in 2100 MHz band till now.
Most of the spectrum put up for auction is at present held by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Telecom. Their licences are expiring in 2015-16.
Mobile licences for nine circles of Idea Cellular, six circles of Airtel and seven circles each of Vodafone and Reliance Telecom are coming up for renewal.
The 3G and BWA auction together fetched the government over Rs 1.05 lakh crore in 2010. The government had raked in Rs 62,162 crore from the last spectrum auction held in February 2014.