Probe in connection with alleged irregularities in allocation of Talabira-II coal block to Hindalco

Former Union Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayana Rao was on Monday questioned by the CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in allocation of Talabira-II coal block in which Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary P.C. Parakh are accused.

Mr. Rao was summoned to the CBI headquarters on Monday morning and quizzed about the allocation of Talabira-II coal block at Odhisa to Hindalco despite the screening committee giving it to the public sector Neyveli Lignite Limited.

Mr. Rao, a Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh, was Minister of State for Coal between 2004 to 2006 and in his second term from 2006 to 2008.

Mr. Rao, who has been Rajya Sabha member from 2000 to 2012, was not immediately available for comments.

Mr. Rao along with his former Coal Minister Shibu Soren has been accused by Mr. Parakh in his book on coal scam as those responsible for scuttling reforms in the Coal Minsitry.

The CBI is likely to question Mr. Parakh this week as the agency has finished examining top executives of Hindalco in connection with the allocation.

However, no decision to summon the group’s chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla has been taken so far, the sources said.

The CBI had registered a case naming 46-year-old Mr. Birla, Mr. Parakh and unknown officials of Hindalco and the Coal Ministry in 2013 under various sections pertaining to criminal conspiracy and corruption for alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks nine years back.

The probe in the case gained momentum after the agency took written answers from T.K.A. Nair, Advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in connection with entire coal scam especially on Talabira-II.

Mr. Nair had denied any wrong-doing in allocation of coal blocks to Hindalco. Registering of a case against Mr. Birla and Mr. Parakh was criticised by India Inc and former bureaucrats.

A decision on filing a closure report or a charge sheet will be taken by the CBI after completing the investigations in the case, the sources said.

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