New Delhi, Oct 25:
Former Coal Secretary P C Parakh apparently failed to specify any “public good” on file notings when he reversed his earlier position of rejecting Hindaclo’s application for coal block in Odisha.
CBI sources said the only material change that took place between rejection of Hindalco’s application during 25th screening committee and allotment were two letters routed to Parakh through Prime Minister’s Office and his personal meeting with Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of Aditya Birla Group.
The sources said although Parakh’s explanation was that decision was reversed for larger public good, he apparently did not specify what had prompted him to change his own decision and, if at all, there was one why the application was rejected in the first place.
Despite repeated calls and messages, Parakh did not respond to the allegations.
They said CBI would examine in detail Odisha government officials who had processed files related to allocation of coal blocks to Hindalco and what were the reasons for such a support.
Justifying the FIR, the officers associated with the probe, said they had registered it based on facts available on the file which does not explain cogent reasons for allotment of Talabira coal block to Hindalco.
The sources said a letter has already been sent to Prime Minister’s Office seeking files related to allocation of Hindalco and the reply is awaited and any future action would be taken after receiving the same and analysising it.
The CBI will also wait for the observations of the Supreme Court next week before proceeding with questioning of PMO and Coal Ministry officials in connection with this case, they said.
Prime Minister’s Office has given a rebuttal to CBI allegations and said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was satisfied that the final decision taken in this regard had been “entirely appropriate” and based on the merits of the case placed before him.
Reacting to the issue, Hindalco had claimed,”to imply that our Chairman, Kumar Mangalam Birla, managed to overturn the decision of the Screening Committee, is preposterous. The truth of the matter is that the Talabira II and III mines together have been finally allotted jointly to Mahanadi Coal Fields and Neyveli Lignite, both public sector undertakings, with Hindalco having only a 15 per cent stake in the joint venture.”
The CBI in its FIR alleged that while the recommendations of the Screening Committee, which had rejected Hindalco’s application citing “valid reasons”, were being approved by the “competent authority”, it received letters dated May 17, 2005, and June 17, 2005, from Birla requesting allocation of the Talabira II coal block, which were forwarded to the Ministry.” (PTI)