The Central Bureau of Investigation is all set to register a case pertaining to alleged irregularities in the allocation and use of coal blocks to private companies between 2006 and 2009.
According to a source in the CBI, the agency would initially focus on criminality on the part of private companies which benefited from the alleged irregularities. The agency has come across major violations in connection with coal blocks allocated primarily in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka. While the CBI may later register multiple cases on the basis of the findings, the first case is likely to be registered by August end.
The agency had earlier initiated a “preliminary enquiry” into the alleged irregularities, after the complaints lodged by two Bharatiya Janata Party MPs — Hansraj Gangaram Ahir and Prakash Javadekar — were forwarded to it by the Central Vigilance Commission, which recommended a probe.
The MPs alleged that under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was also the Coal Minister during the period under scrutiny, the Government did not auction the coal blocks and instead allocated them, a move that benefited certain private firms.
They also alleged that in many cases the coal blocks were not put to use by the allottees while in some casesthey were resold to earn huge profits. According to the MPs, the coal blocks were given to 143 companies between 2006 and 2009 at throwaway prices, leading to a huge loss to the exchequer.
During the preliminary enquiry, the CBI is learnt to have questioned some members of the screening committee that had recommended the names of private companies. Documents related to the allotment process are also being examined.
The Comptroller and Auditor General’s report has also highlighted several irregularities in the coal block allocation process.