The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday registered another preliminary enquiry in the alleged coal scam against unknown people for allocation of coal blocks to joint venture companies which included a private player.
This is the third PE registered by the CBI in its ongoing probe in coal-gate and the investigation in this case was specific about the coal block allocation made by the coal-rich states since 1993, official sources said.
The sources said these states had allocated coal blocks to private companies after they entered into joint venture with public sector undertakings for use of coal blocks for non-captive use.
The PE will enquire into allocation of coal blocks and awarding of contracts for formation of joint ventures by government companies under the Government Dispensation Category from 1993 onwards, the sources said.
According to coal ministry guidelines, "There shall be three categories/models for allocation. Grant of mines to companies for specified end uses other than power shall be done by auction through competitive bidding process.
"Government companies can also participate in the process, though allotment to government companies for end use can also be made under government dispensation route. The identified blocks earmarked for allocation to the power sector would be earmarked to ministry of power or state government for carrying out the tariff based bidding."
In the coal probe, CBI has so far filed seven FIRs against private companies and unknown public officials for alleged misrepresentation of facts and three PEs.
CBI registered a PE yesterday against 24 companies and public officials in connection with alleged irregularities in coal block allocations between 1993 and 2004, including during the NDA regime.
The PE was registered after Central Vigilance Commission referred the complaints from Coal Minister Prakash Jaiswal and seven Congress Members of Parliament seeking CBI probe in allocation of coal blocks during NDA rule as well.
The allocation of coal blocks to private companies for captive use started in 1993 when Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973 was ammended with the objective of attracting private investments in specified end uses such as power, cement and steel to meet the requirements of the growing economy.
Jaiswal along with seven parliamentarians sought probe since 1993 and submitted a list of 24 beneficiaries companies, some of which have got captive coal blocks as part of joint ventures with state government, which would be under probe of the agency, they said.
Between 1993-2004, 43 coal blocks were allotted by the government.
"Till March 2011, the ministry of coal has allocated 194 coal blocks for captive mining of which 142 were explored blocks and the balance 52 were either regionally explored or unexplored coal blocks," Comptroller and Auditor General has said in its recent report on coal block allocation.