In a significant development, the Central Bureau of Investigation has decided to widen its probe into Coalgate, covering allegations that the delay in tabling of the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2008, in Parliament was deliberate. The CBI has found out that the system the authorities adopted for the formation of joint ventures was not transparent and accused public servants of vested interest in the award of the contract for development of mines or forming joint ventures with private parties, unduly benefitting a large number of private firms, it said in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition on the scam.

The CBI, which has been probing the coal block allocations made since 1993, will also go into the role played by officials/public servants in the Ministry of Coal and other Ministries and Departments of the Union and State governments. The inquiry will cover … “violation of the existing laws, rules, procedures and guidelines. The said enquiries are looking into the role of each and every person suspected to be involved in the allocation… [and]… into the allegation of delay in tabling of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2008, before Parliament and whether the delay was by design.”

The CBI will probe whether the move to make the allocation process transparent through competitive bidding was deliberately delayed; whether any illegality was involved in allowing the allocations through the Screening Committee while the amendment was in the process; and whether any undeserving company was allotted captive coal blocks through forged documents and cheating — and if so, the complicity of public servants, including Screening Committee members.

PSUs under ambit of inquiry

Indicating that its probe was being broad-based to cover public sector undertakings, the CBI has said it has learnt during inquiries that since 1993, there were irregularities in the coal blocks allocation and the award of contracts for the development of mines and formation of joint ventures by public sector undertaking under the government dispensation category.

“The authorities concerned did not follow the rules and procedures for awarding the mines development contract for the coal blocks allocated under the government dispensation category by the Coal Ministry.”

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