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PMO to coal ministry: Seek legal view on de-allocationhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/pmo-to-coal-ministry-seek-legal-view-on-deallocation/

PMO to coal ministry: Seek legal view on de-allocation

Opinion sought on coal blocks that are under CBI scanner

More drastic action could be expected from the government by deallocating coal blocks. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the coal ministry to seek legal opinion on whether an inter-ministerial panel can take away all coal blocks where the CBI has registered first information reports (FIRs).

The actions would give the PMO reasons to tell the Supreme Court that it has not flagged on pursuing allegations of corruption in coal block allocations.

The investigating agency has filed 13 FIRs and so far and 10 more would be filed soon. The CBI,which is probing block allocations between 2006-09 has also registered three preliminary enquiries.

In course of a meeting convened by the Prime Minister’s principal secretary

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Pulok Chatterji,top coal ministry officials pointed out that a legal view is needed whether the inter-ministerial group (IMG) can take such a step.

“The PMO officials asked coal secretary Sanjay Kumar Srivastava to approach the law ministry to ascertain whether the IMG can be equipped to review the performance of such blocks and recommend appropriate action,” an official who attended the meeting told The Indian Express.

The government had to face the Supreme Court’s ire on Wednesday for not aiding the CBI with documents in its probe in coal scam and was directed to file a comprehensive affidavit justifying allocation of 164 coal blocks.

The apex court has said that the agency was “struggling” in its probe in the absence of documents not being supplied to it relating to the allocation of 204 coal blocks out of which 40 have been de-allocated.

The move to seek legal opinion comes as some of the companies whose blocks have been cancelled have moved the courts in protest against the de-allocations.

“We believe there should not be any issue in assessing the status of those blocks against which FIRs have been registered by the CBI,but since some firms have resorted to legal recourse against de-allocations,it is imperative to ask the law ministry. Besides,the CBI has filed FIRs against the owners/holders of these blocks and the coal ministry believes that once de-allocations are executed,these blocks can be put either for auctioning for the private sector or given to the PSUs through the government dispensation route,” a senior coal ministry official said.

The coal ministry is awaiting a reply from the law ministry in this connection.

The IMG has intensified the push to penalise another 40 errant captive block holders by either deducting their bank guarantees or asking some of them to furnish guarantees in a time-bound manner.

The coal ministry at the behest of the IMG had served show-cause notices to allocatees for 30 blocks last month and is preparing to serve 56 more notices to holders of captive mines which were earlier classified as part of ‘no-go’ areas.

MINING PROBE

The CBI has filed 13 FIRs and is in the process of filing 10 more for alleged irregularities related to the award of coal blocks

The investigation agency’s probe on allocations done during the period 2006-09

Currently,an inter-ministerial group (IMG) is looking into issues surrounding coal blocks that have not commenced production or have serious irregularities

The PMO has,therefore,asked the coal ministry to seek legal opinion whether the IMG can de-allocate blocks that are being probed by the CBI

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This would give the PMO reasons to tell the Supreme Court tha it has not flagged on pursuing

allegations of corruption in coal block allocations