Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, Sept 1:
The FIR lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) last year against Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Union Coal secretary PC Parakh over allocation of the Talabira coal blocks in Odisha was based ‘on incorrect premises or a misreading of the facts’, a report in the Economic Times (ET) said today.
The newspaper report says, “ A close reading of CBI’s closure report in the high-profile case, which was exclusively accessed by ET, shows all the major allegations in the FIR turned out to be based on incorrect premises or a misreading of the facts.These errors are despite the fact that CBI conducted a preliminary enquiry (PE) before lodging the FIR. “
“Information received from a source” was basis for the PE, the CBI closure report says.
The main allegation in the FIR was Parakh overturned the recommendation of the 25th Standing Committee and accommodated Hindalco in allocation of Talibara II and III coal blocks without any valid basis or change in circumstances. A government undertaking, Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NCL) was earlier allotted these blocks.
“The closure report stresses that this happened because of the intervention of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik who wrote to the Prime Minister pitching for Hindalco’s case,” the Economic Times reports says, adding, “Odisha had taken the same stand before the 25th Standing Committee. Patnaik told the PM that he supported the aluminium project of Hindalco over NLC’s power project. “
However, what is not clear is why the CBI did not interrogate Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik in the course of its inquiry.
The closure report makes another point which UPA had also made to cite no losses in the so-called coal scam. “The mining activity at Talibara II and III blocks is yet to commence since the Stage-1 Forest and Environment Clearance is still awaited from the ministry of environment and forests,” the CBI has now said.