Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee in her capacity as coal minister in the NDA government had compelled the management of Coal India (CIL) to appoint 50 party workers as trainees, by disregarding the established procedures and without any eligibility tests, former coal secretary PC Parakh has said in his book Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other truths, to be released on Monday.
Although the West Bengal CM has “commendable simplicity and personal integrity… she was not immune to misuse of her office for her party Trinamool Congress’ interests,” Parakh said.
Parakh has alleged that soon after Banerjee took charge of the coal ministry in 2004, she forced the then acting chairman of CIL Shashi Kumar to appoint 50-odd TMC workers as security personnel at the mines of Northeastern Coalfields.
“No procedure was followed in their selection, no advertisement, no tests and no interviews. A list of names was handed over to Kumar and he was told to issue appointment letters,” Parakh has said.
Kumar conveyed to Parakh that none of these men attended training and used to simply mark their attendance and engage in party work.
This happened at a time when CIL had huge surplus of unproductive manpower, which was being reduced through voluntary retirement and recruitment was banned.
After she left office, the services of these workers were terminated. Banerjee also tried to appoint some “non-descript TMC workers” as independent directors on the board of Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC). That proposal automatically lapsed upon her exit.
On Banerjee’s successor Shibu Soren, Parakh has said: “Their interest was primarily in faster allocation of coal blocks, transfers of officials in coal companies, generating employment in Coal India and granting of coal linkage when there was no coal.” He added that his views were diametrically opposite to the minister.
Ex-coal secy: Onus on CBI to catch coal block culprits
In his book detailing his tenure in the coal ministry, former coal secretary PC Parakh has hit out at the CBI for indulging in “witch-hunting” in its ongoing investigation on the alleged irregularities in allocation of captive coal blocks since 1993.
The investigating agency has registered an FIR against him for allocating a portion of the Talabira-II block to Aditya Birla group company Hindalco in Orissa’s Ib valley coalfields. The Indian Express was the first to report the contents of Parakh’s book on April 12.
Taking strong exception to the FIR, Parakh has said the CBI has built up a case against him based on “falsehoods, half-truths and conjectures” and suggested that the agency should have done its homework carefully before accusing him of conspiracy and corruption.
Parakh, who served as the coal secretary from April 2004 to December 2005 has also questioned CBI for letting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh off the hook in the allocation of coal blocks.
“Did the CBI not notice during its PE that the decision in this case was taken by the Prime Minister? If the CBI smelt a conspiracy and corruption, why did it not name the Prime Minister in the FIR?” he has argued.