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Pushed,govt admits over 200 coal blocks allocation files missing

Coal ministry's reply rejecting auction is among missing files.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
August 21, 2013 2:49:41 am

Even as Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal assured Parliament on Tuesday that he would leave “no stone unturned” to trace the missing files related to the allocation of coal blocks,the coal ministry has listed over 200 missing files which would be required by the CBI for its probe.

These include files related to policy decisions such as continuing with the screening committee procedure instead of accepting the T L Shanker committee’s recommendations in 2004 to auction the blocks. The ministry’s response to the T L Shanker committee’s recommendations is missing.

Related: 13 crucial files on coal block missing

The ministry also has no record of the paper trail through which several big companies were granted coal blocks. The application sent by Hindalco for Mahan block,Punjab government’s verification report for Seragarha block for GVK Power,recommendations made by MP Vijay Darda for Bander coal block for AMR Iron & Steel,feedback form submitted by Kamal Sponge Steel and Power,applications for all 45 coal blocks allocated from 1993-2005 and inter-ministerial meeting minutes on CTL allocation are among the other documents reported to be missing.

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Related: Uproar in Rajya Sabha over missing files

In its communication to the coal ministry,the CBI had sought these files for its investigation into coal block allocations since 1993. But the coal ministry found that the relevant documents “could not be found in the records of the section”. It said “the Prime Minister’s Office may be requested to provide the copy of the PMO reference to the ministry”.

The CBI had listed 225 documents as crucial to its investigation into the allocation of 13 coal blocks to private companies. CBI sources said the coal ministry has provided only 68 documents so far. “If the coal ministry believes these files are missing,it should file a complaint with the police or CBI to probe the matter,” said a CBI official.

Related: Jaiswal admits to missing coal files

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in charge of the coal ministry in 2006-09,when a large number of these coal blocks were allocated.

The agency said it would inform the Supreme Court about the missing files on August 27. “We wrote to the coal ministry in May seeking files related to the coal block allocations. We have not received any response from them,” said CBI director Ranjit Sinha.

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Related: Start turning the file boxes over,says ministry to officials

CBI sources said the absence of these documents would hamper their probe. In its FIR,the agency has alleged that the private companies misrepresented facts and tried to mislead the screening committee.

“These documents are also required to scrutinise the role of government officials including some secretaries and joint secretaries,” said an official,adding that the files contain documents like application forms,minutes of the screening committee meetings,objections raised by officials and file notings.

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The ministry has decided to seek the help of the planning commission,power and steel ministries to reconstruct some of these records.

Besides filing 13 FIRs,the agency has so far registered three preliminary enquiries in connection with the probe. According to the CBI,the 35th screening committee meeting had recommended 15 coal blocks for allocation to various companies.

Following reports that some of the missing files may be with the Comptroller and Auditor General,CBI said it may approach CAG after receiving a reply from the coal ministry.

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First published on: 21-08-2013 at 02:49:41 am

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