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CBI to probe coal block allocations since 1993

Last updated on: September 24, 2012 20:09 IST

CBI to probe coal block allocations since 1993

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The Central Bureau of Investigation has decided to expand its probe into coal-gate bringing under its scanner all coal block allocations made since 1993 including the six-year NDA rule after a reference in this regard was received from the Central Vigilance Commission on Monday.

Last week, Coal Minister Shri Prakash Jaiswal wrote to Central Vigilance Commission seeking a CBI probe into all the coal blocks allocated since 1993 when Government had started allocation to private players for captive use.

Seeking the CBI probe, Jaiswal has also recently forwarded a letter written by seven parliamentarians to the CVC saying that blocks allotted between 1993 and 2004 including those given during the NDA rule should be investigated by the CBI, as allegedly favours were done to parties under political pressure.

The letter of MPs also sought for enquiry as to what system the Government of India put in place for selection of companies for coal block allocation between 1993 to 2004 and whether these guidelines were followed and how were joint venture partners selected.

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Image: A labourer smokes after loading coal onto trucks at a coal yard near Chiwaki railway station in Allahabad.
Photographs: Jitendra Prakash/Reuters

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CBI has so far registered seven FIRs

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The CVC referred the complaints to the CBI to probe the matter and the agency will soon begin its investigation on it, CBI sources said.

The allocation of coal blocks to private companies for captive use started in 1993 when Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973 was amended with the objective of attracting private investments in specified end uses such as power, cement and steel because of growing economy.

In its ongoing probe, CBI has so far registered seven FIRs against private companies and unknown public officials for alleged misrepresentation of facts.

"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.

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Photographs: Jitendra Prakash/Reuters

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Congress does not want truth to come: BJP

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The BJP said it has no reservations on the CVC's order asking CBI to probe coal allocations 1993 onwards and alleged this was a "delaying tactic" of Congress as it does not want truth to come out.

"We are not worried about the CVC asking the CBI to probe coal block allocations from 1993 as the NDA has nothing to hide. The issue here is who is bringing in the 1993 period and why. It is the Congress which has been demanding this as it wants to delay everything," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told PTI.

The BJP spokesperson maintained that as per the Comptroller and Auditor General, 2004 is the benchmark for the new developments in coal mining.

"The CAG has explained that global prices of coal increased phenomenally in 2004. The Electricity Act, 2003 also increased coal prices as private players were allowed to participate in power generation. The UPA government decided in 2004 that there should be competitive bidding in coal mining," Javadekar said.

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Image: A labourer loads coal onto a truck at a coal yard on the outskirts of Jammu
Photographs: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters

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'CBI is being used, abused and misused'

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The BJP leader alleged that CBI is being "used, abused and misused" by the government and this move is aimed at diverting attention from the scams and corruption of the UPA regime.

"In 1993, a Congress government was in power. Then governments of I K Gujral and Deve Gowda, both supported by the Congress, came to power," Javadekar said, reiterating that his party has no issues with the period to be probed.

"The point here is from when the issue should be investigated. You can even start from 1976 when Indira Gandhi nationalised coal mining or from the 17th century when coal mining started. This is just a delaying tactic," he added.

 


Image: A worker sits near a drilling machine at a coal mine in the Mahanadi coal fields at Dera near Talcher town in Orissa

Tags: CBI , BJP , UPA , Congress , Deve Gowda

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