Coalgate: CBI may soon question K M Birla, Parakh

New Delhi: CBI is likely to examine soon Hindalco chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary P C Parakh, who are named as accused in the FIR related to Talabira coal block allocation to Hindalco, as it wants to expedite probe in Coalgate.

CBI sources said the investigation is still going on in the case and no decision on filing final report has been taken yet.

“The investigation in the case is still going. The persons including the accused persons shall be examined in due course of investigation. The inquiries are being expedited for early conclusion,” official sources said.

In the FIR relating to allocation of Talabira II and III coal blocks in 2005 in Odisha, the CBI has named Parakh, Birla and Hindalco on various charges including criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct on part of government officials.

It alleged that during the 25th Screening Committee meeting under the Coal Ministry, chaired by Parakh, applications of Hindalco and Indal Industries were rejected for mining in Talabira II and III “citing valid reasons”.

The coal blocks were allocated to Mahanadi Coalfields and Neyveli Lignite Corporation, both PSUs, on the recommendations of the Committee and letter of allocation were issued to the PSUs on June 16 and July 15, 2005.

Within days, a “personal meeting” took place between Parakh and Birla in which the industrialist requested for the allocation of Talabira II coal block, the FIR said.

“Pursuant to these letters and personal meeting between Parakh and Birla, Parakh, by abusing his official position as a public servant recommended the allocation of Talabira II and Talabira III coal blocks to Hindalco Industries Limited, along with other two companies without any valid basis or change in circumstances and with the sole intention to show undue favours to Hindalco,” the FIR said.

The allegations have also been refuted by Parakh and Hindalco as well.

Defending his decision, Parakh had said, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with the decision. It was a very fair and correct decision that we took. I don’t know why CBI thought that there is a conspiracy.”

Hindalco spokesperson had said,”To imply that our chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla managed to overturn the decision of Screening Committee is preposterous.”

“The Prime Minister is satisfied that the final decision taken in this regard was entirely appropriate and based on the merits of the case placed before him”, the PMO had said.

The PMO acknowledged that the final decision on the allocation “differed” from the earlier recommendation of the committee.

“This was done following a representation received in the Prime Minister’s Office from one of the parties, which was referred to the ministry of coal,” the PMO had said in a statement.

The PMO said CBI is free to investigate the case as it may have got hold of some documents post-allocation.

The PMO issued a strong rebuttal to the allegation prompting the agency to go on the backfoot.