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Decision making the first victim of CAG report on coal scam, says former IAS officer Anil Swarup

Updated : February 22, 2019 08:50 PM IST

Former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Anil Swarup on Thursday termed decision making as the first victim of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the allocation of coal blocks made between 2004 and 2010.

In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Swarup said grandstanding by CAG on coal scam has put a lot of sincere officers like Harish Gupta in serious trouble.

“I am glad that the current government has changed the law. Earlier, the law was Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, you could be held liable irrespective of the fact whether there was any malafide or not and it was crazy and civil servants are being hounded for that,” he said.

Further, Swarup said, “My contention is that if there is a wrong, nail that wrong but don’t come up with generic figures like there is a notional loss of so many crore and what is the calculation? You look at an average cost of mining. Mining cost varies from Rs 400 to Rs 4,000, how can you average it at Rs 590? Look at the comparisons that are made. So, someone probably didn’t have the time or did not want to go into the details of it and came up with conclusions with devastating consequences on governance apart from anything else."

Calling bureaucracy as the visible part of the executive arm of the government, Swarup said good work by bureaucrats are not highlighted, but all the negative things about civil services are known to the public.

Swarup said his remedy for change includes a ‘less is more’ approach to policy announcements and a much more effective outcome-based execution plan.

Swarup's new book, Not Just a Civil Servant, does some plain speaking about the shortcomings of the political class that uses the lethal weapon of transfers to tame the bureaucracy.

On the anti-incumbency factor, Swarup said, "The biggest problem is creating expectations. People do have expectations and these political parties have this habit of creating those expectations by making announcements, in which some were not practical. So, when it does not happen, someone has to be blamed."

"Of course, politicians take the blame, but also bureaucrats share it. You must have funds to back an idea, you must have the infrastructure to back the idea and you must have the logistic support to back an idea. But when it is election time, they forget about all that and they announce it. Then someone has to carry that cross and some of it's carried by the civil servants," he added.
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