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Naveen batted for JSPL too


New Delhi, Oct 21:

While the UPA government allotted a coal mine to Aditya Birla Group firm Hindalco on his recommendation, a similar petition by the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to the NDA government too had resulted in a mine being allocated to the Naveen Jindal-led Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL).

Patnaik, who in August 2005, had recommended to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh allocation of the Talabira II mine to Hindalco, had on June 22, 2002 written to the then Coal and Mines Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for allotment of the Utkal B-1 mine to JSPL by cancelling an earlier allotment of the coal block to Talcher Mining.

Like in the case of Hindalco, the Coal Ministry agreed and allocated the mine to JSPL.

“Since allotment of Utkal B-1 coal block is very vital for setting up the sponge iron/steel plant in the state, I would request your personal intervention in the matter and consider the allotment of Utkal B-1 coal block in favour of Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) on cancelling the prior allotment to Talcher Mining Pvt Ltd,” Patnaik had written to Prasad.

The Utkal B 1 coal block in Talcher coalfields of Odisha was allotted to JSPL in September 2003 when the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power.

When contacted, Prasad said, “A recommendation came from the Chief Minister and to the best of my knowledge, the allotment of coal block made to the earlier allottee was cancelled as the company did not start production within the stipulated time. Everything was done fairly.”

“The crucial consideration is of fake coal block allocations,” he told PTI, adding that no comparison can be made between this case and Hindalco.

He wanted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to respond to other coal block allocations which the CBI is now probing under Supreme Court monitoring as he has acknowledged being the “competent authority”.

CBI is probing alleged irregularities in allotment of Talabira II and Talabira III mines to Hindalco and has registered case against the firm Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary P C Parakh. (PTI)