Amid the uproar over the CAG report in Parliament,the CBI in its preliminary enquiry has established the role of some officials of the coal ministry,state governments and members of other ministries who were part of the screening committee in the allocation of coal blocks.
The agency will soon file FIRs against these officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The FIRs will also name private companies which will be charged with cheating,forgery and criminal conspiracy.
The probe so far has established that the screening committee did not enforce the guidelines in their true spirit,leading to the allocation of coal blocks to some undeserving companies and some firms which had poor credentials.
From a cursory examination of these firms,it is clear that they did not have requisite expertise to carry out mining operations,but they were still given coal blocks. It seems there was no due diligence while selecting or rejecting these companies, said a CBI official.
In some cases,the agency found that such firms were given coal blocks just on the recommendation of the concerned state government.
The agency probed 140 companies which were given coal blocks between 2006-09 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in charge of the Coal Ministry. A large number of these companies were found to have been misrepresented.
We have identified all the firms. They fudged and fabricated their account books to gain eligibility,and also shielded themselves under a corporate veil which is being investigated, said the CBI official. Some of these companies are alleged to have sold off their coal blocks to bigger companies for a huge profit.
Questioning of the screening committee members also revealed that there was deliberate delay in the move to implement competitive bidding,by representatives of the state governments as well as the ministries.
Besides the screening committee members,the CBI also questioned two former coal secretaries H C Gupta who was coal secretary from 2006-08 and P C Parakh who was coal secretary in 2009. The agency,however,clarified that the former coal secretaries,who also chair the screening committee,were questioned to understand the issues involved in the allocation of coal blocks.
The CBI registered a PE in June this year on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC),which,acting on the complaint of BJP leaders Prakash Javedakar and Hansraj Ahir,asked the agency to look into the allegations of malpractices in allocation of coal blocks during 2006-09.