Monday, 24 September 2012

CBI Probe: Probe all coal allotments since ’93: CVC

CBI Probe: Probe all coal allotments since ’93: CVC
 Clean Media Correspondent

New Delhi, Sept 24 (CMC) Acting on a reference from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the Central Bureau of Investigation has decided to expand its probe into the alleged irregularities in the allotment of coal blocks to include all allotments made to private companies since 1993.

The ongoing probe by the agency was restricted to coal block allotments during 2006-09. The CBI has so far registered seven FIRs against private companies and unknown public officials for alleged misrepresentation of facts during the process of allotment.

Last week, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal wrote to the Central Vigilance Commission seeking a CBI probe into all coal blocks allotted since 1993 when the government began allotting blocks to private players for captive use.

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

The letter of the MPs also sought an inquiry into the kind of system the central government had put in place to select companies for coal block allotment between 1993 and 2004 and whether these guidelines were followed. They also wanted to know how joint venture partners were selected.

The CVC Monday referred the complaints to the CBI and the agency will soon act on it and begin investigations, officials said.

The allotment of coal blocks to private companies for captive use started in 1993 when the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973 was amended to attract private investments in specified end uses such as power, cement and steel to help a growing economy.
“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,” the Comptroller and Auditor General said in its controversial report on coal block allotments.

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