Internal emails of Essar executives that form part of the PIL to be filed in the Supreme Court suggest that they ferreted out official information, took a call to “invest” in people holding influential positions in the government and shower Diwali and New Year gifts also to “persons in the middle and lower ranks in various ministries, who are very vital in sustenance and procurement of important information & documents”.
An email sent out on April 21, 2012 refers to a meeting with an official in the petroleum ministry to discuss “the outcome of Gas Pooling meeting which was held last week in the ministry. He informed that there was no outcome as such from the meeting, but ministry has prepared a brief note for PMO which we have collected and the same has been sent to person concerned in Mumbai”.
There is also reference to a meeting with a section officer in the coal ministry to check on a letter that the ministry was to write to CMPDIL (Central Mine Planning & Design Institute Limited) “regarding our 4 CBM blocks. He informed us that he has not taken any action so far on this since they are all tied up with the CAG issues. He expects that he will be able to send the communication to CPMDIL by next week”.
In an October 14, 2013 email, an Essar executive underlines: “Deepawali & New Year is the only time in the entire calendar year wherein gifts are distributed to the person in the middle and lower ranks in various ministries, who are very vital in sustenance and procurement of important information & documents, and most of the times it has been observed that these resources are left out during festive gifting. The economy is still down but by offering small corporate gifts we can at least show that we value them.”
Multiple emails suggest that flow of information and documents from ministries are critical for strategy.
On July 19, 2013, a top Essar executive wrote an email regarding Essar’s Mahan project in Madhya Pradesh. “I write to share the attached draft note of the Ministry of Power that… has sourced this morning. It addressed our issue ‘not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially’ as Pandit Nehru put it.”
On January 13, 2014, a senior executive sends an email with an August 6, 2010 11-page document from the Prime Minister’s Office detailing inter-ministerial discussion on forest clearance to coal blocks and status report on end-user plants. The email gets a response: “Tks so much… Great job@ such a short notice. I agree — this is very helpful.”
An email from a company executive on October 8, 2013 discusses how a railway official is helping Essar in an alleged freight violation matter. “According to him, he had already been questioned by some of his colleagues that why he did not blacklist Essar… He said he would have to protect himself, as he would not be able to pass the buck on someone else. He asked me not to haste things unnecessarily, as he had obliged us by starting the domestic movement… He had asked me to see him tomorrow morning at around 1030 hrs and promised me to clear the file.”
Other emails show how hospitality and favours are extended to bureaucrats. These include requests for accommodation, vehicle for private visits and employment for friends. Consider two such examples:
* July 12, 2013 email: A petroleum ministry official has “requested for recruitment of his own nephew anywhere in the group. It would be appropriate to consider his personal request”.
* December 8, 2012 email: A senior official in Bastar wants an Innova to visit a temple in Gwalior from Delhi. “If possible please try to meet him in Delhi. According to sources, he may become Industry secretary.”