Incidentally, former AIADMK ministers, until now, mostly those from the Kongu region including Velumani, P Thangamani and Vijayabhaskar and led by former chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, had lorded over the powerful and resourceful departments such as transport, electricity, PWD, highways and municipal administration.
“The actions are clearly targeted at the party’s bigwigs to cut the AIADMK to size,” said a political strategist, who did not wish to be named.
Minister for electricity, prohibition & excise V Senthil Balaji’s statement on Friday about the missing 2.38 lakh tonnes coal may look big in terms of volume, its cost is Rs 85 crore. But this volume pales into insignificance when one considers that Tangedco’s annual requirement of coal is 21 million tonnes.
Politics aside, Arappor Iyakkam’s founder Jayaram Venkatesan terms the Friday announcement about the missing coal as just the tip of the iceberg. “We have recorded a Rs 6,000 crore scam in coal imports between 2012 and 2016 and submitted to the DVAC. By comparing the inspections by Customs and Tangedco on the same lot of coal, CAG had recorded a Rs 800 crore scam in just onethird of the consignment, based on the difference in calorific value claimed and actual, thereby making it a possible Rs 2,400 crore scam,” Arappor’s Jayaram Venkatesan said.
“Much of this will have to do only with the imported coal. Moreover, the officials or anyone have to go by the book only. Given the huge volume of coal dumped in the stockyard, it is next to impossible to actually quantify the available stock by any form of measure,” a former TNEB chairman told TOI.
“It is difficult to do coal business legally in Tamil Nadu. By buying lower calorific value coal dust, they show it as higher calorific value coal in the books. Hence, they will end up using larger quantities of coal for combustion to generate power and naturally, it will go missing from the stockyard,” said a logistics operator, on the condition of anonymity.