The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday started probe against 24 companies and public officials in connection with alleged irregularities in coal block allocations between 1993 and 2004, including during the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance regime.
Agency sources said a preliminary inquiry has been registered after Central Vigilance Commission referred the complaints from Coal Minister Shri 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 because of growing economy.
Jaiswal along with seven parliamentarians has 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.
The sources said the agency would now approach coal ministry and state governments seeking records related to allocation of coal blocks to these companies.
Investigation must cover what system they (state governments) adopted to ensure transparent allocation, and what criteria and selected guidelines were adopted and followed by state government, what method of due-diligence were employed for the same," the MPs wrote in the letter apprehending many cases of malpractices during the NDA rule.
Image: A labourer loads coal onto a truck at a coal yard on the outskirts of Jammu
Photographs: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters